Saturday, June 15, 2013

Comfort Women, prostitutes, and an apology

Comfort Women, prostitutes, and an apology

Recently Mayor Toru Hashimoto of Osaka, Japan made a few comments that caused a commotion on both sides of the Sea of Japan (in Korea and Japan).

He mentioned “comfort women” were necessary to maintain discipline within an advancing army.  The term “comfort women” in this reference is interchangeable with “camp followers.”  Camp Followers have been a part of organized armies since their inception.  Camp Followers provided food, laundry services, and prostitutes for the armies they followed.  In some incidents the camp followers outnumbered the army they were following.

Camp Followers were attached to armies in the American Revolution, and both Northern and Southern armies in the American Civil War.  During World War Two the U.S. Army inspected and approved concubines (houses of ill-repute, prostitutes). 

The “Comfort Women” issue in Asia is contentious because South Koreans claim South Korean women were forced by the Japanese Imperial Army to serve as sex slaves as comfort women.  Japan maintains the women were recruited prostitutes.  For many years Korea kept insisting Japan needs to admit and apologize for “sex slaves.” 

After Mr. Hashimoto made his statement about comfort women he continued by stating it was wrong to force women into sexual slavery.  Basically here was a Japanese official claiming comfort women were forced into service.  This part of his statement should have satisfied those in Korea concerning this issue.

Not so fast!  The still complained and criticized him further.  Huh?  The South Korean national government canceled a planned trip to meeting with Japanese national government officials because of the Mayor of Osaka.  Now how silly is that?  He is a mayor not a member of the national government. 

Mr. Hashimoto also suggested U.S. military personal stationed in Japan should employ the services of prostitutes to help reduce the number of sexual assaults committed by a few U.S. military personal behaving like barbarians. 

The furor over his comments worked up into a historical frenzy causing Mr. Hashimoto to issue an apology and holding a press conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondence Club.       

As expected the news media in Asia and the West has lambasted the mayor without any analysis of what he said or placing any of it in an historical context. 

Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s press conference:

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