WASHINGTON -- A Japanese diplomat has come under fire after he portrayed the victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery as "paid prostitutes."
The Japanese consul general in Atlanta, Takashi Shinozuka, made the remark in an interview last week with the Reporter Newspapers, urging the Brookhaven City Council to reverse its decision to accept a memorial honoring sexual slavery victims, also known as "comfort women."
The Japanese consul general in Atlanta, Takashi Shinozuka. (Captured from the website of the Reporter Newspapers)
According to the newspaper, Shinozuka claimed there is "no evidence" that the Japanese military sexually enslaved women, mostly from Korea, during World War II, and he also argued that the women were rather paid prostitutes.
"This is not a simple art object," he was quoted as saying. "This is a symbol of hatred and resentment against Japan."
Brookhaven City officials deny the memorial bashes Japan and rather insist it honors the memory of the victims. A city spokesperson was quoted as saying there is no talk of rejecting the memorial, which is set to be unveiled on Friday in Blackburn Park II.
The Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force strongly denounced Shinozuka's remark, saying it runs counter to what the Japanese government has said so far and raises questions whether Japan no longer believes there were sexual slavery victims.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Japan has long attempted to water down the atrocity. (Yonhap)