Ishihara raps party co-head Hashimoto for controversial remarks

Shintaro Ishihara, co-head of the Japan Restoration Party, criticized on Tuesday the party's other head Toru Hashimoto, saying it was a "great nuisance" that Hashimoto's controversial remarks on Japan's wartime military brothels hurt public support for the party.

Hashimoto, who doubles as Osaka mayor, may have to resign as the party's co-leader depending on the outcome of the upcoming House of Councillors election next month, former Tokyo Gov. Ishihara said in an interview with Kyodo News.

The criticism by Ishihara, who has been defending Hashimoto, could deepen the turmoil within the once up-and-coming political party.

Hashimoto has been under fire for a series of controversial remarks about Japan's military brothels during World War II and on his advice for the U.S. forces in Japan to use the country's legal adult entertainment industry.

If upper house election results for his party fall short of expectations, "It's a matter of how Mr. Hashimoto, who may have created a predisposing factor, would take the outcome (of the election)," Ishihara said.

On Hashimoto's explanation that he meant to say Japan should not be singled out as a country having wartime military brothels, Ishihara said, "There's no use justifying himself at this timing, as he touched on a taboo subject and said something that should not have been said."

"My perception of history is basically different (from Hashimoto's)," Ishihara said.

Ishihara also said it would be "impossible" to realize Hashimoto's proposal that an airport in Osaka Prefecture hosts some of the U.S. military's training exercises using its MV-22 Osprey aircraft in a bid to reduce the burden on Okinawa, home to the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan.