橋本発言に対するNew York Timesの報道。May 15, 2013, 12:47 pm 配信。
Did Japan ‘Need’ Comfort Women?
By CAROL GIACOMO
In recent years, Toru Hashimoto, a 43-year-old former television commentator who is mayor of Osaka, Japan’s third largest city, has been making political waves, challenging the status quo with a brash, very un-Japanese approach. He’s known for provocative right-wing statements, quick, the-buck-stops-with-me decisions, and a willingness to battle labor unions and the establishment in a culture known for consensus-building. Last September, he formed a new political party, the Japan Restoration Association, and named about 350 candidates, most political neophytes, to run in the next parliamentary elections.
Whatever one thinks of his style, however, he crossed a line on Monday with his reprehensible comments on Japan’s wartime behavior. This politician, who some envision as a future prime minister, effectively endorsed wartime rape and sexual enslavement.
During Japan’s occupation in World War II, as many as 200,000 women were rounded up across Asia to work as sex slaves — the Japanese euphemism is “comfort women” — for the Japanese Army. Many of the women came from China and South Korea but others were from the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan.
Survivors still bear the scars of this abuse and Japan formally apologized in 1993.
One might expect that given his young age, his education (he is a lawyer) and the fact that he is living in a highly developed country where women are also becoming more educated and independent, Mr. Hashimoto would revile — and vow never to repeat — the sins of the past.
Instead, he told reporters that the sex slaves served a useful purpose. “When soldiers are risking their lives by running through storms of bullets, and you want to give these emotionally charged soldiers a rest somewhere, it’s clear that you need a comfort women system,” he said.
He insisted that brothels “were necessary at the time to maintain discipline in the army;” and he claimed there was no proof that the Japanese authorities had forced women into servitude. He attributed the women’s experiences, vaguely, to “the tragedy of war.” At least he bothered to say that surviving comfort women deserved kindness from Japan.
There are any number of countries where men continue to exploit conflict to rape women, including Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Would Mr. Hashimoto defend such atrocities as a necessary respite for overworked soldiers?
Mr. Hashimoto’s comments may be among the most extreme but he is not the only Japanese politician revisiting the country’s wartime history and stoking dangerous new tensions with the countries Japan once occupied.
Japanese ultranationalists have condemned the 1993 apology to comfort women, as well as a 1995 apology to nations that suffered from Japanese aggression during the war. The new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, initially signaled that he might revise the apologies, but last week his government promised to uphold them.
On Tuesday, the Japanese government distanced itself from Mr. Hashimoto’s comments but Mr. Abe and other top officials need to go further and condemn them outright. It’s hard to believe that anyone who espouses such outrageous views as Mr. Hashimoto has much of a political future in Japan or anywhere else.