By Yining Su
Up and coming Japanese politician Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka and co-leader of the populist Japan Restoration Party, said that “comfort women” (aka “sex slaves”) were “necessary” for Japanese soldiers during World War II, according to The Asahi Shimbun.
As if that’s not enough, Hashimoto then said some other things which sound almost apologetic, but reveal him to be even more of an asshole than you’d assume just from the “necessary” quote.
Let’s look more closely at what he said, shall we?
First, Hashimoto said that “a comfort women system is necessary” for soldiers to have a rest when they are at war. These were his words:
In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives. If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.
Then, he tried the old “Other people were doing it too!” defence (morality pro tip: just because someone else did something bad doesn’t mean that it’s ok for you to do it too):
When I checked the history of those years, I found that not only the Japanese army but also those of various countries were utilizing (comfort women).
Next, Hashimoto acknowledged that the comfort women were forced into sexual slavery “against their will”:
It is a result of the tragedy of the war that they became comfort women against their will. The responsibility for the war also lies with Japan. We have to politely offer kind words to (former) comfort women.
These last comments may make seem as if he is mollifying his stance by saying that the women became comfort women “against their will”. But taken together with the assertion that “anyone can understand that” soldiers who run around in danger need a comfort women system, Hashimoto appears to be saying that rape and forced sexual slavery during wartime it is a fact of life that everyone must accept and understand. As if when we hear about women and girls who are rounded up and forced to work as prostitutes in brothels servicing soldiers, we should just throw up our hands and say “Ah, well. That’s life! It’s really sad. It’s a tragedy. But what else are soldiers supposed to do. How else will those brave soldiers rest?”
Another point: I have no wish to diminish the suffering of the 200,000 women and girls who were forced to work in brothels for Japanese soldiers in WWII. Not to mention the vulnerability of women and girls to sexual exploitation in every conflict, including present day ones. But it’s worth pointing out how insulting Hashimoto’s words are to male heterosexual soldiers. Did Hashimoto really mean to say that no heterosexual male fighting in dangerous situations can possibly “have a rest” without raping a sex slave?
But what do you expect from the politician who said that what Japan really needs right now is a dictatorship?