• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:08am

Japan's broadcast chief Katsuto Momii regrets war brothel remark

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 12:26pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 11:29pm

The head of Japan's public broadcaster has expressed regret for comments about military brothels in the second world war, as China and South Korea voiced outrage about a highly sensitive point in relations with Tokyo.

Trying to snuff out further controversy over Japan's view of its wartime role, new NHK chief Katsuto Momii said his comments were "extremely inappropriate". Addressing a news conference on Saturday on the issue of "comfort women", a euphemism for Korean and other women forced to work in military brothels, Momii said such things occurred at the time in all countries at war. But he acknowledged the practice was bad "by today's morals".

Political parties in South Korea demanded Momii's resignation, suggesting his remarks risked becoming another diplomatic headache for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Even as a personal opinion … It’s my fault for not grasping the rules

China's foreign ministry restated its frequent calls for Japan to adopt a "responsible" view of its wartime history.

Tokyo already has strained relations with Seoul and Beijing rooted in disputes over remote islands and lingering memories of Japanese aggression before and during the war.

Momii, a former vice-president at one of Japan's largest securities trading houses, reiterated that his weekend comments amounted to his personal view.

"Even as a personal opinion I shouldn't have said it. It was extremely inappropriate," he said. "I had never been [speaking] in such a place before. It is my fault for not grasping the rules."

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

On Saturday, Momii also said it was "only natural" for NHK to voice the government's position in international broadcasts on such matters as the dispute with China over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

Xinhua said that despite Momii's expression of regret, the damage had already been done. "Momii's remarks are surely taking a toll on NHK's reputation and Japan's national image," it said.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said he believed Momii's remarks meant the matter was closed.

"He made those comments as his personal opinion and when it was pointed out that this was a news conference as NHK head, he said he retracted them all, so this is not a problem," he said.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

He regrets the remark, not the war brothel that put them to shame. Shameless.
Other than 'daily' who continues to spew mindless hatred, I have to join the other commentators here in condemning this. I am in Japan right now and I've noticed this attitude among several members of the older Japanese business elites. It's incorrect to say the least, probably dishonest, and of course utterly lacking in humility and compassion. I doubt these jerks will change their views. The question is whether the generation that will replace them as leaders will adopt a better stance.
M Miyagi
Katsuto Momii, Shinzo Abe, LDP members all cut from the same dirty rag. Dishonourable, disrespectful, hypocrite, no empathy for Japanese wars of aggression and simply savages. Japanese fascists prospering in Japan due to the occupier US indifference and encouragement. The US is playing with fire. The savages that attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941 can do a similar thing today.
He doesn't regret his comments at all! Such a hypocrite as his original remarks clearly state his true opinion. These morons truly believe they have a right to subjugate women with impunity. No remorse or understanding of the despicable behaviour. China and Korea are right to denounce this attempt at whitewashing.
why do I have the feeling dat this comfort women issue is just simply brushed aside...does anyone in japan really understand or care about their feelings of those forced women had to endure and some of them are the living proof...... i wonder why Japanese women are not protesting and condemning these casual remarks by their male counterparts...sounds really weird and worrying really, afterall those male do have mamas ...or mama san...
These Japanese people are sick and perverted to the very core of human souls........if we can even consider them human beings for making such an inhumane remark..........let's find ways to get the Japanese women of today to serve as "comfort women" to other countries.


SCMP.com Account