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Hashimoto to retract remark suggesting U.S. military use sex industry


Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said Saturday he will retract his remark suggesting that U.S. servicemen in Japan use the country's adult entertainment industry in order to prevent them from committing sex offenses against locals, adding that he will apologize to the U.S. people and military.

"My choice of words was inappropriate," Hashimoto, who co-heads the opposition Japan Restoration Party together with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, said in a TV political debate program.

He said he would like to make the apology at a press conference slated for Monday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

On Friday, Hashimoto told reporters that he wanted to apologize to Americans and the U.S. military for the remark, admitting that he had made improper comments.

He reiterated his excuse that it had been his intention to urge the U.S. military to "get serious about holding down the number of sexual offences" against locals in Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan, and against U.S. women soldiers.

Meanwhile, he did not retract his remark that the system to recruit women into sexual servitude "was necessary" to maintain discipline in the Japanese military during World War II.

"I was aware that I would be criticized not only from Japan but from countries across the world, if I say anything about the issue of comfort women," he said.

Such women, who provided sex at wartime brothels, are euphemistically referred to as "comfort women" in Japan.

Hashimoto reiterated his argument, saying, "It is necessary for each country to review its past, in which it used such women in the battlefield, and not just accuse Japan."

On May 13, Hashimoto said anyone can understand that such women were necessary for brave soldiers who had been at the front line of the war. He also said that, when he visited Okinawa to inspect the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in late April, he asked a senior U.S. military officer based in the prefecture to let Marines use local adult entertainment services.

Hashimoto's remarks have drawn criticism in and outside Japan, including from the U.S. State Department.

Hashimoto subsequently said that his remark about U.S. servicemen lacked "international awareness" and that he lacked knowledge about U.S. public morals and culture. He noted he did not intend to encourage prostitution, but refused to retract his comment at that time.