JCCCNC statement regarding the mayor of Osaka’s recent comments regarding the justification of supporting ‘comfort women’ during World War II

May 16, 2013

Responding to the recent comments of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) has released the following statement.

As a Japanese American nonprofit organization founded by members of a community who have suffered the effects of racism and discrimination and who by acts of prejudice and what was called a wartime necessity were forcibly rounded up and placed into America’s concentration camps during World War II (WWII), we are appalled by the insensitive and indignant comments made by the mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, regarding the justification of Japan’s “comfort women” issues as a wartime necessity during Japan’s expansion and occupation of other Asian countries during and around the years of WWII.

While it is not the usual position of the JCCCNC to make public comment about Japanese politicians, their governance and/or their personal beliefs or remarks, we consider his statements and interpretation of Japan’s “comfort women” issue to not be of just local concern in Japan, but of international concern around the world including here with the Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities in America.

Many members of the JCCCNC as well as the San Francisco Bay Area are of diverse Asian ancestries, of which no doubt some of these families and individuals have been impacted by the wartime expansion of Japan during WWII, Mayor Hashimoto’s shocking and insulting statements continue to be harmful towards healing and closing the wounds of Japan’s wartime occupation and aggression toward its Asian neighbors.

For over two decades the JCCCNC has had a relationship with Osaka City Hall; together we have sponsored and organized international programs and exchanges that have brought thousands of people of all backgrounds together to build understanding and to improve relations between our two countries. Our relationship with the City of Osaka as San Francisco’s sister city has been the basis of our U.S.-Japan related programs creating and promoting international goodwill and friendship between our two countries. Thus, we are deeply saddened that the leader of such a highly regarded and admired international city could ever believe that any system that forces women into sexual slavery can be defensible or conceived as a wartime necessity.

His viewpoint would make it impossible for the JCCCNC to continue to organize joint programs and make courtesy calls to Osaka City Hall, as well as to continue to bring youth and other citizens to call upon the Office of the Mayor during his administration. However, we realize that his personal comments and opinions were not meant to reflect that of the citizens of Osaka and Japan, and we will continue to organize U.S.-Japan programs that further the friendship, understanding and goodwill between our two countries.

Fifty-six years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower requested San Francisco Mayor George Christopher to select the first sister-city between the United States and Japan following WWII, a city that could be an example to the world of the need to rebuild friendship, relationships and goodwill between people following the tragedy of the war. The San Francisco-Osaka sister-city relationship is the oldest between our two countries; as the oldest, our two cities and its citizens carry the greatest responsibility to ensure that we learn from our past so that we continue to foster our enduring peace and friendship for future generations.

The views expressed in the preceding commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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