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S. Korean women cancel meeting with Osaka mayor

By Reuters in Osaka, Japan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-05-25 08:00:48

 S. Korean women cancel meeting with Osaka mayor

South Korean women shout slogans during a demonstration on Wednesday in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, calling for the resolution of the Japanese Military Sexual Slavery Issue. Provided to China Daily

Hashimoto: No plan to withdraw remarks on wartime sexual slavery

Two elderly South Korean women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels canceled a meeting on Friday with Osaka's mayor after he refused to withdraw remarks asserting the brothels were "necessary" at the time.

Osaka's mayor, Toru Hashimoto, an outspoken populist who has often stirred controversy, sparked a storm of criticism at home and abroad when he said last week that the military brothels had been needed, and Japan has been unfairly singled out for wartime practices that he claims were common among other militaries.

Octogenarians Kim Bok-dong and Kil Won-ok said they had hoped their planned meeting with Hashimoto, who heads the small right-wing Japan Restoration Party, would encourage him to change his mind, but they had heard he planned to manipulate them by an "apology performance" in front of media.

"The indescribably heart-wrenching reality and history of the victims cannot be traded with his apology performance and sweet talk," the women said in a statement provided by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.

"We do not want to kill ourselves twice," they said. "If he truly feels sorry to us and regretful, he must take back his criminal comments and make a formal apology. He should hold himself responsible for his wrongdoing and retire from politics."

Hashimoto also said there was no evidence the Japanese military directly abducted "comfort women", as they are euphemistically known in Japan, to work in the brothels before and during World War II.

Historians estimate that as many as 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during the war.

On Friday, Hashimoto said he was sorry that the women's feelings had been hurt.

But he declined to withdraw the remarks.

"I believe at the moment there's nothing I should withdraw," he said during a news conference. "But I feel sorry if media coverage (of his remarks) hurt comfort women's feelings."

Hashimoto also said it was clear that the Japanese military ran the brothels, but it was necessary for scholars to study and clarify whether Japan's military and government were directly involved in abducting the women to work there.

(China Daily 05/25/2013 page6)

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