Japanese nationalist group apologises for member who kicked Taiwan comfort woman statue

Right-wing group says representative who hit out at memorial to wartime sex slaves has resigned over ‘inappropriate’ behaviour

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 2:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 5:02pm

A Japanese right-wing group has apologised after a member kicked a statue of a “comfort woman” in Taiwan.

The apology on Thursday by “the Truth of Comfort Women Movement” said Mitsuhiko Fujii had resigned from his position with the group and conceded that his actions risked harming relations between Japan and the self-ruled island.

His actions had been branded “unacceptable” by the Taiwanese government and had prompted protests from human rights activists.

Fujii was filmed kicking at the statue outside the Tainan offices of the Kuomintang opposition party last Thursday.

He had been visiting to present a letter protesting against the memorial, the first one on the island.

Taiwanese protest after Japanese kicks ‘comfort woman’ statue

It commemorates those forced to work as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese forces during the second world war, euphemistically referred to in Japan as “comfort women”.

Fujii insisted that he had been stretching his legs after a long trip.

But the group’s chairman, Hediaki Kase, said in a statement posted on its website: “Regardless of his reasons, from an objective perspective we can conclude his actions upset people and was inappropriate.”

Kase said this act had damaged the image of the Japanese people and violated international norms of good behaviour.

“I sincerely apologise to the Taiwanese people who felt offended,” Kase said

Taipei says activist kicking ‘comfort woman’ memorial was unacceptable

But Kase said the group continued to object to the comfort woman statue, insisting that it was a distortion of the historical truth.

“I worry [the memorial] will also damage the friendly relationship between Japan and Tawian,” he said.

Andrew Lee, a spokesman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, had previously said that Fujii’s behaviour indicated that he was uncivilised.

“Any act of violence or provocation is not acceptable, regardless of whether the person is a local or a foreigner,” Lee said.