WASHINGTON—The United States on Thursday denounced as “outrageous” comments by an outspoken Japanese mayor who said “comfort women” forced to provide sex during World War II were a military necessity.
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, whose comments have triggered an outcry, offered Thursday to meet former wartime sex slaves to apologize for their suffering. But he again insisted that Japanese soldiers were not the only forces who had brutalized women.
“Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
“As the United States has stated previously, 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.”
Washington again sent its “sincere and deep sympathy to the victims, and we hope that Japan will continue to work with its neighbors to address this and other issues arising from the past,” Psaki added.
Up to 200,000 “comfort women” from Korea, China, the Philippines and elsewhere were forcibly drafted into brothels catering to the Japanese military during WWII, according to many mainstream historians.