WASHINGTON — Tensions between China and Japan have diminished since last year’s spats over a remote island chain, but recent remarks by a Japanese mayor has sparked another round of political wrangling.
This time, it was the mayor of Osaka Toru Hashimoto. Reuters reports that Hashimoto excused pre-World War Two actions by Japan to abduct Chinese and South Korean women to work in military brothels.
Japan brutally conquered parts of China and all of the Korean peninsula, and took hundreds of thousands of non-Japanese civilians to work in factories or brothels in Japan. Any comment that excuses pre-war abuses like these have sparked outrage by China and South Korea.
“Anyone can understand that the system of comfort women was necessary to provide respite for high-strung, rough and tumble crowd of men risking their lives under a storm of bullets…at the time, it was a necessary system to maintain military discipline.”
According to Reuters, historians say that up to 200,000 “comfort women” were forced to work in these military brothels by the Japanese military.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said:
“The forced recruitment of comfort women was a serious crime of Japanese militarism at the time of World War Two. This is an affront to human dignity and a major human rights problem…we express shock and strong indignation toward the Japanese politicians who have made public an open challenge to human conscience and historical justice”.
South Korea also issued a statement and demanded an apology from the Japanese government.