We have sent the following Remonstrance to Mr. Toru Hashimoto, the Mayor of Osaka City, on his recent remarks about “Comfort Women” issue and US military in Okinawa.
In protest against the recent statements made by Mr. Toru Hashimoto, Japan Restoration Party co-representative and Osaka mayor, we hereby demand his apology, full retraction, and immediate resignation from his current public offices.
At the Osaka City Hall press conference on May 13, 2013, as the mayor of Osaka and co-representative of a political party, you stated that the so-called comfort women system, under which the Japanese Imperial Military built “comfort stations” throughout Asia and women from every region were forced into sexual slavery and raped repeatedly, was “necessary.” You said, “When soldiers are risking their lives running through hailstorms of bullets, a comfort women system is necessary if you want to give wound up groups of warriors some rest. Anyone can see that.” We were unable to suppress our outrage when we heard your words, because they wounded even more deeply the surviving victims who continue to suffer physically and emotionally from their harrowing experiences and are seeking the restoration of their dignity as human beings. Do you not understand that to affirm sexual violence and the treatment of women as mere tools of war is to debase all women and grossly violate their human rights?
Your argument on the “necessity” of the “comfort women” system is precisely that expounded by the Japanese Imperial Military, which built countless “comfort stations” across Asia. After the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, in which numerous rapes by Japanese soldiers were reported, the military leadership sought to quell rising anti-Japan sentiment among the Chinese and growing criticism abroad, and so they hurried to establish “comfort stations” with the intent to prevent further rapes. This is how “comfort stations” came to be built throughout China and wherever the Japanese military advanced. But far from “resolving the sexual desires” of the soldiers, the establishment of comfort stations increased incidents of rape.
You further stated that “I examined the history of the time and it wasn’t just the Japanese military; other militaries also made use of [comfort women].” However, there is no other country in the world that built and operated “comfort stations” in war zones, occupied territories, and colonies and continuously confined and raped women taken from such regions for a period of more than fifteen years. Even if such a country were to exist, that would not absolve the Japanese military of its crimes. Moreover, you repeatedly insist that “there is no evidence showing that the [Japanese] military or authorities forcibly took women away to become comfort women.” But why are you unable to face the reality borne out in the testimonies of the survivors?
For the past seven years, we at Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace have been engaged in the action of remembering and recording the facts regarding damages suffered and inflicted under the Japanese military’s “comfort women” system. What the testimonies of innumerable women victimized all over Asia make glaringly clear is the reality of their having been taken to the “comfort stations” against their will and raped. Their statements further reveal that they were not allowed to rest, quit, or escape, but were simply forced to endure being repeatedly raped day in and day out. Please look squarely at the significance of the Japanese military’s having systematically established, managed, and operated the “comfort stations.”
The people of the world recognize as historical fact that the Japanese military created the “comfort women” system and victimized countless women across Asia. It is also internationally acknowledged that sexual violence in war is a particularly grave violation of human rights, a war crime that must be eradicated. We are ashamed and outraged that an individual who affirms such war crimes holds public office and is the co-representative of the third largest political party in the House of Representatives.
Furthermore, when you toured the U.S. airbase at Futenma, Okinawa, you suggested to a U.S. commander there that the U.S. military personnel make more use of the “sexually oriented businesses” in the area. This was later criticized by the U.S. government as “ridiculous.” But you shrugged it off, saying, “The U.S. is being unfair. The U.S. consistently denies state-regulated prostitution, but it is historical fact that sexually oriented businesses thrived around U.S. bases after WWII.” We are horrified how such a discriminatory person who ignores human rights and whose sexual awareness remains steeped in archaic ideas is a political leader.
We are enraged by your statements and vehemently protest against them. We request that you apologize for the profound pain you have caused the surviving “comfort women” and that you retract your remarks without delay. In addition, we demand that you apologize to the citizens of Osaka and all Japanese people for having repeated statements inappropriate to public office, and that you accept responsibility by resigning from all your appointed positions.
May 17, 2013
Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (wam)
Steering Committee and Director Eriko Ikeda
Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (wam)
Avaco Building 2F, 2-3-18 Nishi Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0051, Japan
Telephone: 03-3202-4633 / Fax: 03-3202-4634