Please read the following news articles and the attached statement about news from our home city and activists we directly work with:
The Japan Times
San Francisco mayor ‘offended’; meeting in doubt
BY ERIC JOHNSTON
MAY 22, 2013
OSAKA – Embattled Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto faced fresh criticism Tuesday from the San Francisco mayor’s office over his remarks about the necessity of Japan’s wartime brothels.
Osaka says Hashimoto will meet with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee on the morning of June 11, but the international firestorm created by the Nippon Ishin leader’s remarks that Japan’s “comfort women” system had been necessary at the time has infuriated human rights groups and the U.S. State Department, which called Hashimoto’s remarks outrageous and offensive.
That view is shared by the San Francisco mayor, and despite the schedule Osaka announced, Lee’s office says the Hashimoto meeting has not been confirmed.
“Mayor Lee is disappointed and offended by (Hashimoto’s) statement,” said Francis Tsang, a spokesman for the mayor.
In addition, San Francisco’s Department of the Status of Women, formed in 1998 by the city, has criticized Hashimoto’s comments.
“Sex slavery is never ‘necessary,’ ” Emily Murase, the department’s executive director, said in a statement. “To justify the exploitation and suffering experienced by the women, some just girls, who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II is a flagrant denial of human rights.”
Osaka and San Francisco have a sister-city relationship dating back to 1957, and mayoral delegations have visited each other on numerous occasions over the years. The San Francisco-Osaka Association condemned Hashimoto’s remarks last week.
“Statements that justify controversial wartime abuses and devastating violence against women are damaging to international relations and contrary to the mission of the association,” it said.
U.S. slams Japanese mayor’s sex-slave comments as ‘offensive’
Thu, May 16 2013
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States condemned as “outrageous and offensive” comments by the mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka who said this week that Japan’s military brothels during World War Two were “necessary” to provide respite for soldiers.
The remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto drew strong criticism from China and South Korea, two nations sensitive to what they see as any attempt to excuse Japanese abuses before and during the war.
Historians estimate that as many as 200,000 sex slaves, known as comfort women, were forced into submission in the Imperial Japanese Army’s brothels during the war.
“Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“What happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions,” she said, adding that Washington hoped Japan would work with its neighbors to address the mistakes of the past.
The Japanese government has sought to distance itself from Hashimoto’s comments.
“The government’s stance is, as we have said before, that we feel great heartache when we think about the indescribable suffering of those who experienced this,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, although he declined to comment directly on Hashimoto’s remarks.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Philip Barbara)
Click here to read a statement from Emily Murase and the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women: dosw_statement_hashimoto_051613 FINAL