• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 8:17pm
NewsAsia
JAPAN

Head of Japanese broadcaster NHK puzzled by fuss over 'comfort women'

Head of broadcaster NHK said country's use of wartime ‘comfort women' a 'fact of those times'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 4:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 5:12am

Japan should not be singled out for criticism of the use of military brothels during the second world war, the new chairman of Japan's public broadcaster NHK was quoted as saying in remarks likely to spark widespread anger.

The comments by Katsuto Momii, who has just taken over as chairman of NHK, are also likely to become an additional diplomatic headache for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe is already faced with deteriorating ties due largely to territorial issues with China and South Korea, nations that suffered from Japanese aggression before and during the war.

Abe, who visited a controversial shrine last month that honours war criminals along with war dead, is also battling his international image as a right-wing nationalist who wants to revise Japanese history so it has a less apologetic tone.

The issue of "comfort women", as those forced to work in the wartime brothels are euphemistically known in Japan, is a flashpoint in Japan's relationship with Asian nations, especially South Korea. Many of the women forced to work in the brothels were Korean.

Asked about the issue at a news conference on Saturday, Momii said such things happened in every nation at war during that time, including France and Germany. "[The issue of] 'comfort women' is bad by today's morals," Momii was quoted as saying by the Asahi Shimbun daily. "But this was a fact of those times."

"Korea's statements that Japan is the only nation that forced this are puzzling. 'Give us money, compensate us,' they say, but since all this was resolved by the Japan-Korea peace treaty, why are they reviving this issue?"

Japan says the matter of compensation was closed under the 1965 treaty that normalised diplomatic ties between them.

Momii said he was only giving his personal opinion but, when reporters noted that he was speaking as a public figure, Momii then said he retracted his remarks, the Asahi Shimbun reported. He also said it was "only natural" for NHK to take the Japanese government position in international broadcasts on things such as territorial disputes with China over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

"International broadcasting is different from domestic," he was quoted as saying. "If the government says 'left' we can't say 'right'."

Japanese politicians have repeatedly drawn fire for their remarks over the military brothels.

Toru Hashimoto, the populist co-leader of a small right-wing party, sparked a storm at home and abroad last year when he said the military brothels had been "necessary" at the time and Japan had been unfairly singled out for practices common among other militaries during wartime.

Momii, who was vice-president of trading house Mitsui, is set to serve as NHK chairman for three years. He has denied he was appointed because he was Abe's favoured candidate.

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M Miyagi
Katsuto Momii or Shinzo Abe or for the matter hara-kiri Hirohito san all cut from the same dirty rag stinking of fascism, war-mongering , corruption without any human decency much like their ancestors savages that perpetrated brutal war-crimes. Of course these fascists pigs are puzzled about everything to do with human decency and humanity being steeped barbaric traditions and denial of brutal war history. Two atomic bombs and Fukushima couldn't reform these savages. This is the fault of the US occupying power that refused to share the occupation of japan and to allow the complete and total defascism of Japan. The LDP and the Japanese rightists are still maintaining their false State Shintoism and Bushido. A barbaric people with no future. The world should boycott Japan politically and economically and send these savages to hell!

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