SOUTH Korean war veterans burnt Japanese flags in protest today after the mayor of Osaka defended the use of women as sex slaves in World War Two (WW2).
Former soldiers gathered in Seoul and burnt portraits of Toru Hashimoto who claimed the prostitution of Asian woman was necessary to ‘maintain discipline’. Vietnam war veterans also burnt images of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who to pledged to revise Japan’s past apologies for wartime atrocities.
The elderly men, who were dressed in their full military uniforms, also chanted anti-Japanese slogans and held banners denouncing the politicians’ comments. Police stepped forward to calm the group, however several elderly men were left injured and bloodied in the confrontation that followed.
During Japan’s colonial rule between 1910 and 1945 women mainly from Korea and Asia had been taken from their homes and forced to work in military brothels. Abe had previously caused controversy in 2007 during his first term when he denied any coercion was used in the recruitment of Korean and Asian women for brothels.
While Hashimoto sparked fierce criticism in Japan and abroad when he last week said the brothel system was ‘necessary’ in WW2 for soldiers. The recent comments have led former Japanese army medic Masayoshi Matsumoto to speak out about the sufferings of women during WW2. The 91-year-old, who is a retired Christian pastor, said he felt like a ‘war criminal’ after taking part in what he felt would be a ‘righteous’ war. During WW2 he helped doctors examine half a dozen Korean women who provided sexual services for officers and non-commissioned officers.
He said: “No matter if they wanted to flee, there was no way to escape.”
Mr Matsumoto said the Japanese Prime Minister should apologise for the sufferings of women and compensate those affected.