Osaka's fascist mayor defends WWII policy of sexual enslavement: "a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that."

Toru Hashimoto is mayor of Osaka and co-founder of the Japanese Restoration Party. He's previously called for Japan to be run as a dictatorship; now he's made public comments defending the WWII Japanese military policy of enslaving women and giving them to soldiers to rape. He says that it was a necessary expedient to support hard-working soldiers.

He said last year that Japan needed "a dictatorship".

In his latest controversial comments, quoted by Japanese media, he said: "In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives,"

"If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that."

He also claimed that Japan was not the only country to use the system, though it was responsible for its actions.

Japan WWII 'comfort women' were 'necessary' - Hashimoto (Thanks, Jack!)

(Image: Wikimedia Commons/aska27)


    1. It is the traditional thing to say at times like these, but y’know, sometimes there are no words. At least he admitted that Japan was partly to blame for the war. /s

    2. He has one, as well as a mouth. He can provide almost as much comfort as a women, so if he can be heard speaking he’s not doing his part.

  1. The Japanese are a lovely polite people who just occasionally go on a genocidal rampage. 

    1. Those (insert race) are a (glib condescending left-handed compliment) who just occasionally (insert admonishment based)

      Let me guess, you’re from The US? Europe? China? Or perhaps some land where occasional genocidal rampages aren’t wrapped up before brunch?

      Or you know, continue with your smarmy racist condescension. I’m sure we’d all be fascinated to hear your clever occidental insight into  “Those People” and their “genocidal rampages.”

        1. Maybe I went a bit over the top. Half my family is Japanese and that sort of pigeon-holing bugs me.

        2. Nobody is a race. Races are socially constructed based on superficial characteristics. Racism against non-racial groups has been quite common, for example, against Ashkenazi Jews and Irish for being non-white, against Roma for being non-Aryan, etc.

      1.  So, how would you describe their actions in enslaving Korea, invading China, the Philippines, (almost) invading Australia, invading Korea repeatedly over the centuries and to this day having more racism internally than even a die hard southerner?

        He didn’t say they were the only one but they certainly are league leader for the 20thy century.

        1. Who is “they?”  All of them?  The ones born before 1930 or the ones born after 1980?  The rich ones?  The poor ones?  The nationalists?  The humanists?   Which Japanese people are you talking about?

          It’s weird, but Japanese people have a variety of opinions on a variety of subjects.  It’s almost as if they were individuals or something.

          1. The Elite. The now called 1%. Those in a culture who never had to struggle to become rich. Because they were born in it. Grew up in it. Isolated themself in it. Using religion and pseudo-science to justify their good fortune of chance. As if they were entitled to it and had a hand in it themself. Snobs with too much free time on their hands. Deep down desperate because they know they can loose all. And don’t have the skills to retain it or regain it. The hangers-on around them. The Renfields hoping if they suck up hard enough, they too will become part of the elite.

          2.  If you’re saying that racism only comes from the top of society and that peasants and humble working folk never hate filthy foreigners then… I don’t think I can agree with you.

          3. Even the 1% has a variety of opinion and experience.  And there are lots (and lots) of folks who don’t hang with the 1% who engage in systematically evil behavior.

            I think it’s a lot more complex than who has economic power.

        2. Yeah, those terrible Japanese, stealing America’s Philippines, which we legitimately took from those nasty colonialist Spanish!

      2. Name me any existing society which has ever perpetrated anything like the obscenity at Nanking, which shocked even the Nazis present. And to this day they refuse to even admit it happened, in defiance of copious hard evidence. In other words, they have reserved the right to toss babies around on bayonets and rape little girls to death any time they feel like it. How condescending do you think YOU sound, ignoramus?

    2. 250 years of peace under the Shogunate, followed by internal turmoil after Commodore Perry’s arrival, morphing into European-style imperial aggression for half a century, followed by a new ongoing, long peace. Yes, generally polite and peaceful compared to those dreadful Caucasians.

        1.  As do the tens of thousands of people routinely and callously killed during that “peace”.

      1. Oh good, whitewash Japanese history, ignore the fact that the Shogunate was a brutal, rigidly classist dictatorship established to end the even more brutal Warring States period, and generally replace a whole country’s actual history with a Westernized fairytale so you can get in a remark about how all guilt flows from the West. That’s not bigoted at all. Here’s a little hint: the peaceful noble pre-contact Asian is just as demeaning a stereotype as the peaceful noble savage. Here’s another: there’s plenty of guilt to go around; you don’t need to hoard it for the West by erasing other countries trials, tribulations, transgressions and triumphs.

  2. how does he feel about ‘comfort men’ for women soldiers?  or for openly homosexual soldiers? (probably shouldn’t even muse on this level of slimy thought processes)  did this guy conceal these terrible beliefs when he was running for mayor??

    1. Give the enthusiasm for rather retro gender roles that is common in hard-right and fascist circles, I expect that he wouldn’t be terribly pleased by the idea…

      However, I would tend to suspect that he would be similarly supportive of the massive conscription that provided all those weary soldiers in the first place.

  3. I think it was Gwynne Dyer who said that the US’s mistake in Vietnam was not having a clear goal, because war is fundamentally about taking the other guys stuff. And if we’d gone to Vietnam to take their women, who are quite lovely, we could have done that and gone home. 

    It’s pretty scary that this guy in Osaka probably doesn’t have his head as far up his ass as most of our generals. 

    1. This may be the second creepist thing I’ve read all day. That whole part about Vietnamese women being “another guy’s stuff.”

      1. Well Gwynne could make that point as a liberal Canadian.  It might have been one of the people he interviewed, but that was the point that Gwynne was making – that war over amorphous ideologies is pointless. 

        Of course, going full circle, Fascism is an extremely  amorphous ideologies, so it has to wrap itself in ceremony and mythology to look serious. 

        1. Yeah. Not helping. Motivating people with something more solid than ideology makes sense. “When we get to Berlin the war will be over. Now let’s get to Berlin!” I get that.

          The part where women were chattel. That was the apparently unintentional Osaka-mayor-moment. So, unless Gwynne was advocating women-as-chattel, Gwynne was not really the issue.

          1. Well if Hilter had expanded Germany’s territory for rational reasons (taking the other guys stuff)  and stopped with Austria, The Sudetenland, and a chunk of northern France  (I’d leave it to the wws buffs to game out the details), he could have won a more limited war by not involving Russia and America.  But Hitler was an insane racist.

            When Japan attacked the US, America went all in.

  4. Our fine mayor. He’s been tweeting about this subject all day. Why, next thing you know, he’ll be carrying out a crusade against tattooed people… Oh wait.

  5. He clearly doesn’t understand the political value of outsourcing this function.  By just giving the soldiers passes to yakuza controlled red districts, the same activity could have been kept off the books!

    There’s something refreshingly honest about Japanese war atrocities, I haven’t heard anyone over there try to deny that the Bataan death march ever happened.

    1. Either you’re poorly uninformed or willfully so.  Japan has denied its war atrocities left and right.  Everyday Japanese do not believe that Unit 731 ever existed; they think that China has exaggerated the rape of Nanking; they buried war criminals in the equivalent of Westminster Abbey, and their second largest city elected this asshole.

      To blithely pass off the war crime of institutionalized rape on a massive scale as ‘shoulda let the yakuza handle it’ is insensitive, misogynistic bullshit.

      1.  they buried war criminals in the equivalent of Westminster Abbey, and their second largest city elected this asshole.

        At least our country is not unlike this one in that regard.

      2.  Protip: when “refreshing” and “war atrocity” are in the same sentence, the author is most likely attempting sarcasm.

        1. thanks for the ‘protip’.  Allow me to respond: mixing sarcasm and war atrocities aren’t good fodder for sarcasm in written form.  Also, starting a post with ‘protip’ is inherently arrogant: you’re calling yourself a professional which implies the listener is an amateur, and also undermines the point you’re trying to make.  If you’re so good at posting on the internet, why would I (the listener) have misunderstood your sarcasm? 

          As a last point, using ‘sarcasm’ to weasel our of a poor statement is weak.  Why not just admit you crossed a line of constructive dialogue and move on?

          1.  Dave, I’m with anansi.  He didn’t cross a line–you just failed to detect his sarcasm.  And the objection to “protip” is just silliness.

          2.  It was somewhat meta.  I was led to the sarcasm pond by deducing that there isn’t a soul on earth who would come to BB and write that with any true gravity.

            It was sarcasm using difficult to swallow words in a meta-way to ultra-highlight the exact opposite of what he wrote.

            I think.

          3. I’m actually not convinced that the second paragraph was sarcasm. The first was, but the second is not in the same style or tone.

          4. >>mixing sarcasm and war atrocities aren’t good fodder for sarcasm in written form. 
            Voltaire was pretty good at it. 

          5. I can’t believe anyone took either of anansi’s paragraphs seriously. Come on. I suck at sarcasm detection, and it was obvious even to me that he wasn’t serious. Maybe you’re trying to weasel out of missing the  obvious sarcastically sarcastic sarcasm dipped in sarcasmsauce. Would this be the right time for another lighten up, Francis?

          6. > you’re calling yourself a professional which implies the listener is an amateur,

            Well you did seem to be an amateur listener  – he’s got a point.

      3. I’m not sure Yasukuni Jinja is strictly the “equivalent of Westminster Abbey”, although I’m not sure what is.

        I actually stumbled into Yasukuni by accident when I was wandering around Tokyo. I just thought it was a big, impressive-looking shrine. It was only after I’d been there a few minutes that light dawned. The presence of a small cohort of little old men who had about as much English as I had Japanese (i.e. next to none) but who were very eager to make me understand the virtues of the Japanese military and the importance of remembering the heroic dead probably helped me figure out what I’d blundered into.

        On the plus side, they have a pretty neat war museum located behind the shrine, if you’re into that kind of thing. On the negative side, while Japan’s inability to let go of or own up to its militarist past is practically a national embarrassment, every Japanese premier still has to make that little pilgrimage once during his term …

      4.  Well, arguably, we’ve buried war criminals in actual Westminster Abbey. Your pint stands, however.

      1.  I wasn’t trying to advocate anything, not even in jest. I just kept getting visions of mk ultra, of Kissinger’s nobel peace prize, and the japanese skulls/ears/scalps that US soldiers tried to mail back as souvenirs. Firebombing Tokyo and nuking Hiroshima, just for bonus points. None of which compare to the keeping of sex slaves… but none of which have been officially denounced by our government either.

         Here in the states we’ve got fascists of our own, who’ll still defend the hollywood blacklists, and COINTELPRO against the black panthers. It sucks that a standing mayor in Japan can apparently get away with saying such things, but he’s in distressingly common company, in my view.

    2. I don’t think the “Comfort Girls” were payed. It probably was for propaganda. Dehumanising the targeted population further. Desensitizing Japanese soldiers. Ridding them of their last inhibitions. Also medical reasons. The “Comfort girls” were checked for STD’s.

  6. Finally, a politician not afraid to say what he really thinks!

    Next step: find one that is both honest and not evil.

    1.  Don’t Shonen Knife come from Osaka too? They certainly sing “My Favourite Town Osaka”.

  7. I pride myself on paying attention to world politics, but I have to admit that this nascent trend of open and proud fascists being democratically elected to serious political office in countries like Japan and Greece has taken me a bit off guard. I knew they were out there, of course, but I was naive enough to assume that given the ugly history of their ideology they’d try to hide it instead of going full-bore like this guy or the Golden Dawn thugs or the Hungarian right-wingers.

    Disconcerting, but all things considered I guess it’s better if they’re not sneaky about it.

    1. Countries like Japan and Greece… and then there was that guy “George W. Bush” from the early 2000s.

      1. I will allow that in practise Prince Bush fit Mussolini’s preferred term for his ideology (“fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power”), but I wouldn’t call him an out and proud fascist. I’m talking about politicians like this mayor, who *really* let their freak flags fly and get elected anyhow.

        1. Well, i bet they didn’t beat around at the Bush’s dinner conversations when talking about those poors.

          1. That’s not necessarily fascism. Although if Grandpa Prescott were present at the table I’m sure some praise for the wonderful effect of facsism on the poor folk came up over the soup course.

        2. Ha ha ha ha ha. Look up corporatism. It has nothing to do with companies. It has to do with organizing people into “corporate” entities so that groups have their common interests addressed.

          That’s awesome.

        3.  There is no record of Mussolini ever having said that.  Even if he did he would have meant something different from what we mean by corporatism — he used the term to refer to trade unionism.

          The neocons were not fascist but I’m sure if they had a charismatic leader (George W Bush wasn’t particularly charismatic though obviously well-liked on the right) they’d be happy to take advantage of a fascist movement.  I don’t think Bush was intelligent or ambitious enough to be a fascist leader.

          Right-wing dog-whistle politics flirt with fascism, I don’t think there’s much doubt about that.

        1. Conservatism as a modern poliical philosophy has been wary of popular democracy since Edmund Burke, the well-known critic of the French Revolution. Not that any syphilis-addled religious fantasist approaches the nuanced and open-minded reasoning of Burke, but Robertson’s just one of many right-wingers who cite Burke selectively on such matters.

        2.  People are not enthusiastic about the French Revolution — including many on the left — because it led to mass executions without oversight of the rule of law.  Also, instead of leading to a democratic government it led to an imperial government (under Napoleon).  Victor Hugo wrote a pretty sweet story about it I suppose but it’s right up there with the Bolshevik Revolution in terms of overreach by the left.

    2. Fascists are their own type of crazy, but it’s a crazy that doesn’t tend to interfere with sane monetary policy.

      So if the choice is between voting for a crazy fascist who is willing to regulate the banks and kickstart the economy and voting in a non-fascist who is selling off the country to give the bankers raises, well you’re going to see a few fascists elected.

      1. What you’re really talking about here is populism, though. Fascism is just a particularly toxic flavour of it.

        In practise, establishment conservatives (esp. bankers and industrialists) frequently attempt to use right-wing populist parties as distractions to take the heat off themselves, with the tacit understanding that the fascists won’t turn around and bite the hand that feeds them once their common left-wing enemies are taken care of (establishment conservatives seem to be selectively deaf to the fable of the frog and the scorpion).

    3. The whole point of fascism is that it panders to the majority. That makes it pretty easy to gain power.

      1. Interesting. Ishin no kai is not a major party (still substantial though considering their history) and probably never will be on the national stage. They just cornered the fringe market and that’s all they’ll get. They don’t pander to the majority, they target a specific segment of the population. Ergo, not fascist? Well, maybe the world isn’t quite as black and white as some claim.

        Now local elections are really different. Hashimoto ran as an independent and was elected for his perceived ability to run Osaka (first the prefecture, then the city), not for his more eccentric political views which just don’t matter at a regional level.

        1. Interesting background. How were the trains running in Osaka before and after he took office?

          1. Equally well I’d assume since this is Japan.

            You can Godwin just about anything I guess. Doesn’t mean it’s right though.

          2. What happened to your comments? I wasn’t expecting a response to my joke, but I was serious about the useful background info you provided.

      2. That’s more the whole point of populism, as I noted above. I just find it odd and demoralising that the extreme right-wing flavour of populism has enough currency to get parliamentarians and mayors of large cities elected.

  8. Fascists tend to find support in times of economic dislocation.  Japan certainly has that, as do Greece and Hungary.

    Where it will get scary is if they go from wacky fringe (BNP, Golden Dawn etc) to anywhere close to the levers of actual power, in nation state with actual power.  I’m looking at you, Teapartiers.  (also Hungary).

    1. The Tea Party is the Billionaires Coup, and Nazi fetishists keep turning up in the midwestern GOP with some regularity.  Is there a direct connection?

      1. There is some precedent for billionaire coup attempts in the US.

        Zillionaires upset at the election of a (relatively) progressive president seeking to use a fascist coup to take power.  In my opinion they are smarter about it now – just co-opt both parties instead.

  9. He sure doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of his country’s WWII soldiers… that they needed to rape women for R&R.

    No, I’m sure Japan wasn’t the only one, and systematic raping has historically… and still today… been part of war. But this is the first time I hear anybody being an apologist for it.

    1. Unfortunately, the jingoistic rantings of the CCP are very likely to drive them to get rid of it.   I only got back from Japan a couple years ago, and it seems to have taken a massive swing towards nationalism  since then, in no small part due to the CCP’s trying to start all kinds of shit.  It’s working, too. I think the major reason the CCP is doing it is to get a foreign villain to distract their people from the fact that their own rulers are the ones screwing them over, and the Japanese are stepping right up to the plate.

  10. I wonder if he would volunteer for any number of horrible other things that “anyone can understand” of which he might likely be a victim under circumstances over which he had no control. 

    I’m positive – and have heard first hand – that there were a number of people in the USA following WWII that would loved to have spent some time with Mr. Hashimoto, doing things to him that “anyone can understand” after “running around at the risk of losing their lives.” Fortunately, most people recognize that it would be wrong and horrible, and that it would only bring “comfort” to horrible people. Lucky for Mr. Hashimoto.

    1. …not that other places are better off. Tokyoites elected Ishihara Shintarô as their prefectural governor over and over again (until he quit). Ishihara makes Hashimoto appear harmless and has caused untold damage to Japan’s economy by reigniting the Senkaku debate (and severely insulting China with his speeches). Also the same guy who once said that women’s only purpose is to bear children. Not surprising at all that they joined forces before the last election.

      Just goes to show that people (at least those who bother to vote) like populists. All over the world.

      1.  I was always partial about his comments on how “sangokujin”  would riot and harm Japanese people in the event of a major earthquake striking Tokyo…. when in reality THOUSANDS of Taiwanese and Korean immigrants had been lynched by Japanese rioters after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

    2. Hey, Kenny Blankenship from MXC was Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture for four years.

  11. It may be time we actually started killing fascists again, unfortunately. The planet is definitely accumulating a surplus…

  12. A difficult and touchy question – given that this dick is a politician, was he appointed democratically? Is he chucking these horrid ideas out there to see if there’s any traction, either from crazy voters or towards his own disgusting personal philosophy?

    Does it reflect on the average citizen of Osaka?  What’s going on?

    1. He’s just trying to get attention if you ask me, and it seems to work. No, the average citizen doesn’t agree with everything he says. He or rather his movement gained traction (even nationally) by addressing people’s frustration with the current system and by promising (political) reforms. He likes to brand himself as a rebel who takes on the central administration in Tokyo.

      Just another populist.

      1. Just another fascist, since what you described is the process by which fascism ascends to power.

        1. It is also how really really liberal, progressive and/or communist forces can “ascend to power,” which are by definition not fascist.

          Maybe reality isn’t two-dimensional?

          1. Fascism is by definition populist, but it also xenophobic, racist, nostalgic, puritanical, expansionist, religious, ruthlessly anti-union, fetishizes violence, and embrace preemptive war.

            Umberto Eco (who grew up under Mussolini) wrote a nice essay on the subject and settles the question about whether the Nazis were real Fascists (YES) although they eventually drifted into a sort of industrial feudalism. 

          2. The key concept that fuels all those -isms is convincing the majority that the minority(ies) is responsible for all their woes.

          3. Also the minorities must be portrayed as an existential threat, so there has be a conspiracy which gives the minorities cosmic powers of destruction. 

            In modern America, this part is played by Muslims. 

          4. Some of the most overt examples of fascism in history have been those that justified themselves by applying labels to themselves that were “by definition not fascist.” Your allusion to Maoist/Stalinist communism falls apart when you recognize that, in practice, they weren’t “really, really liberal” or progressive, and were, in fact, fascist.

          5.  No, they weren’t fascist.  Feel free to go look up what “fascism” actually means since I don’t feel like explaining it to you.  Maoists and Stalinists were “liberal” in the sense that they were left wing.  Authoritarian left wing, but still left wing.

            As a left-wing liberal I will ask you please not to try to re-write history to favor your own ideology.  That is what authoritarians like fascists and Stalinists do.

          6. I would never have pegged you as a left-wing liberal, wysinwig!

            Both Stalinism and Nazism are better characterized as totalitarian, rather than both being fascist, yeah. I would argue that both states, in practice, could be described as fascist, however. There were significant, contradictory, differences in the two nations’ rhetoric, certainly, but Stalin’s communist rhetoric of establishing a classless society didn’t exactly resemble the rigidly striated social structure he was actually cultivating. And his treatment of artists and academics could hardly be described as progressive (and, again, many of those purged academics were actual leftists taken out of the picture for criticizing the Party’s totalitarian bent).

      2. A populist, yes, but also by his statements an out-and-out fascist. There are a lot of ways to gain attention without engaging in this kind of rhetoric.

    2. Somebody else commented above that he’s a city mayor; campaigns for mayor are about keeping the streets paved, crime down, schools open, and corruption managed, not about national political issues.  There are exceptions – Berkeley and San Francisco always have to talk about national issues, and lots of mayors have to talk about immigration policy and Federal budgets because those impact local issues – but I don’t know how the current mayors of Chicago or Los Angeles or even San Jose feel about war or foreign policy in general.

      Here in California I won’t vote for [insert name of national political party] candidates for state offices, even when they’re better than their competitors, until [that party]’s national entity cleans up its act, because local politicians become state politicians, state politicians run for Congress, Congress members run for Senate and President, and even good members of a mostly-terrible party contribute to its power. 

      1. I fully agree with your first paragraph. Hashimoto was elected as an independent, multiple times for different offices, not because of some party’s ideology which frankly people couldn’t care less about in a local election.

        That said, he first set out to reform Osaka (make its administrative divisions more like Tokyo’s) and then used this momentum to found his — now national — party. So while there is a connection he didn’t become mayor of Osaka because of his wacky politics.

        1. Yes, but here’s the real question: were the trains running on time before he took office? How about now?

  13. “a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.”  Okay Mr Hashimoto, Why don’t you tell that to the women who Japeness Soilders raped during WW2.  Assuming you can find any of them that are still alive, try explaining to them, why it was “necessary” for them to be raped.  Sicko.


    For as huge as a flaming leaking asshole as this guy is, I think it’s important to state that “hard working soldiers”, if they are hard at work at war, are in fact hard at work at  the business of murder, destruction, subjugation, theft and again for emphasis MURDER.

    This, because of the glory of state sponsorship, may be seen as just or right, or the lesser of several evils, but it is what it is. I’m not saying that poop noodle of a man doesn’t deserve a swift kick in the teeth, but i’d like to see the same outrage and focused aggression on war and war machines in general.

    1. Thank you for derailing the subject of violence against women onto your own pet topic. We couldn’t have a thread like this without someone like you in it.

      1. I was going to argue against his point, but your comment makes it unnecessary.

      2.  Did i derail it? really? By questioning the implied idea of a war that could somehow be more civilized? Is that off-topic? Should I have brought that up in the My Little Pony threads?

        And who exactly are people like me? People who are not just anti-violence against women but against everyone? People who think that the idea of a tame and just war is by definition impossible?

        1. I agree with you on war.  But.  You did derail because this is explicitly a thread about war-time rape in particular.

          “People like you” refers to people who insist that everyone talk about their pet subject instead of the subject at hand, i.e. derailers — not people who are against violence.

          It is possible to discuss particular aspects of war without talking about war in general.  In fact, this can be even better for making a case against war because it focuses attention on the horrible particulars instead of vague general badness.  “War inevitably leads to the rape of civilians” makes more of an impression on me than “war is bad, mmkay?”

          1.  I disagree with your assessment that my contribution was any more off-topic than any of the upthread conversations about the nature of facism or the absurdity of racial identity.

            Thank you though, for your condescending effort to herd the conversation into the tidy digestable form that you have so wisely and bravely envisioned.

    2. Did you just advocate violence as a just deserts of people who use violence? Is that like a Möbius strip of violence?

      1.  I advocated outrage and aggression against war and the war machines. I understand your confusion, but i dont beleive that aggression is the same as violence- it can lead to it- but anger is different than destruction.


        1. Always be wary of people who don’t literally mean their own argument. Mostly because they do.

      2. I think he just acknowledged that a social system built on conditioning men to perpetuate inhuman acts of violence on the reg lends itself to the particular act of inhuman violence described in this article, and that addressing the former might be a way of addressing the latter.

  15. Boycott Osaka and its products until “Hirohito” Hashimoto is removed or leaves office

  16. It takes a lot to stand out for racism, misogyny and war-crime belittlement among Japanese politicians, but this guy has it. What a scumbag.

  17.  Compare to England or France at the same time.  White people don’t actually fare very well in the “who is historically less of a bastard” game.

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