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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 May 15 - 21  > Protests continue against Hashimoto’s remarks on ‘comfort women’
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2013 May 15 - 21 [HISTORY]

Protests continue against Hashimoto’s remarks on ‘comfort women’

May 15-19, 2013
Voices against Osaka Mayor and co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party Hashimoto Toru have been erupting since May 13 when he claimed that the so-called “comfort women” system was “necessary” and recommended the use of sex-related services to a senior officer of the U.S. Marines in Okinawa.

On May 15, the day that the Osaka City Assembly session began, 150 Osaka citizens and women’s rights activists held a protest rally in front of the city office building, demanding that the city mayor retract his remarks and resign from office.

On the same day in Osaka’s neighboring prefecture of Kyoto, all 50 female Japanese Communist Party members of the prefectural and municipal assemblies issued a statement calling on Hashimoto to withdraw his remarks and resign from office. They took to the streets of Kyoto’s downtown area to increase public support for their call.

The statement stresses that Hashimoto’s remarks “treat women as merely sex objects and are an insult to human dignity, and thus unforgivable.” It criticizes his suggestion to the U.S. Marines as distorting the real causes of the continuous sex crimes against women and children by U.S. servicemen and humiliating those who are suffering under the U.S. base presence in Japan.

On May 16, 11 female parliamentarians, including JCP member Tamura Tomoko and members of the Democratic and Social Democratic parties, urged Hashimoto to apologize for his statement at a press conference held in the Diet building.

In the press conference, independent member of the House of Councilors from Okinawa, Itokazu Keiko said, “We can hardly believe that a lawyer, whose job is to protect human dignity, actually made such remarks in public.”

Later on the same day, women’s groups assembled in front of the Upper House Members’ Office Building to hold a protest rally. Japan Federation of Women’s Organizations (Fudanren) Chair Horie Yuri said that Hashimoto “must take back his words insulting the human rights of both men and women, and step down from his position as city mayor.”

Trade unions, legal groups, women’s groups, and civil groups have also been expressing their voices in protest.

Bang Chung-ja, co-leader of a Kansai-based civil group working on the comfort women issue, said, “I am really amazed at his remarks which are thoughtless and insensitive to human rights.”

Teraoka Shihoko, executive member of the Japan Christian Women’s Organization working to establish women’s human rights since its foundation in 1886, criticized Hashimoto’s words as “a prime example of discrimination against women”. She also said, “It is unacceptable that a person disrespecting human rights speaks as the Osaka City mayor. I want him to be removed from office.”

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