Japan mayor says S. Korean troops guilty of sex abuse
South Korean former "comfort women" (yellow tops), who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II, protest in Seoul August 8, 2012. Sex slavery is a particularly sensitive issue in Korea, whose people made up a large number of the around 200,000 "comfort women" forcibly drafted into brothels catering to the Japanese military during World War II.
In a remark that provoked a sharp response from Seoul, further stoking tensions, Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto said the South Korean military used women for sex during the Vietnam War.
Sex slavery is a particularly sensitive issue in Korea, a former Japanese colony whose people made up many of the around 200,000 "comfort women" forcibly drafted into brothels for the Japanese military during World War II.
Hashimoto said last week these women served a "necessary" role keeping battle-stressed soldiers in line, setting off a volley of criticism from countries under Japan's yoke in the 1930s and 1940s as well as from the US.
In the days since his original comments, Hashimoto, the co-leader of the national Japan Restoration Party, has continued to fan the flames with each new pronouncement, many of which have been on Twitter.
"Japan was bad," he told a party meeting on Monday, the Asahi Shimbun reported. "It is true that we used women to solve the problem of sex on the battlefield.
"Having said that, America, Britain, Germany and France, and even the South Korean military in Vietnam after WWII, they all used women to address the issue.
"Japan was bad, but you all should face up to history. This is what Japanese politicians must say," the Asahi quoted him as saying.
Under military strongman Park Chung-Hee, the father of current President Park Geun-Hye, South Korea deployed a total of more than 300,000 soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s to support US forces.
There is no mainstream evidence that any modern military, other than that of Japan up to and during World War II, employed any system of sexual slavery.
In Seoul a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman said Japan's political classes needed to "correct anachronistic ways of thinking".
"We can't help finding it deplorable that the Osaka mayor continues to make comments that hurt the feelings of the women forced into sexual slavery and to gloss over fundamental problems... with all this talk about what South Korean soldiers did," he said.
"We are truly worried about the direction in which Japan's leading figures are trying to take the country and what they are trying to teach the younger generation."
However, two weekend surveys showed few Japanese had much truck with Hashimoto's opinion, with up to 75 percent of respondents in one poll saying his comments were inappropriate.
Hashimoto's political ally and party co-leader Shintaro Ishihara -- a man also known for his nationalistic views -- reportedly advised his younger colleague to stop Tweeting.
The octogenarian, who rose to prominence as a novelist and essayist, said the 140-character format was not long enough for a proper explanation of a position.
But Hashimoto, who has more than a million followers, rejected the criticism, saying Twitter is "an important tool to convey views", the Daily Sports and Sports Hochi tabloids said.
- BSkyB reveals deal to create pan-European pay TV giant
- BSkyB strikes deal to create pan-European pay TV giant
- Fanboys and girls grapple with change as Comic-Con under way
- Male circumcision lowers HIV risk for women, forum told
- Taiwan airline sorry for crash as relatives blast chairman
- Sudanese Christian woman spared death sentence meets Pope
- Naval ships from US, India and Japan to start wargames
- Gunmen said to chase investigators from MH17 crash site
- Americans alarmed as heatstroke kills kids in cars
- 2014’;s death toll highest in a decade, say experts
- Australia to send 100 extra police, troops to Ukraine
- Airline group vows action after black week for aviation
- MH370 search not forgotten, says Aussie deputy PM
- DAP wants royal probe into flawed court judgments after revelation of racial bias
- Penang, too, cancels Hari Raya open house to respect MH17 victims
- We are united in grief, says UK air steward in solidarity with fallen MAS colleagues
- Parents head to Ukraine convinced MH17 daughter still alive
- Three dead as Indonesia-bound boat sinks off Malaysia
- Three dead as boat bound for Indonesia sinks off Johor
- No Malaysians involved in Air Algerie crash, says Wisma Putra – Bernama
- Only 2% of businesses signed up for GST, says Customs
- Nazir’s plans for CIMB face stiff challenges
- Wan Azizah as Selangor MB will attract young female voters, says ex-NST editor
- Experts confident ‘untampered’; black boxes hold answers to MH17 shooting
- Negri Sembilan government cancels Aidilfitri open house – Bernama