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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Editorial: Hashimoto'€™s dirty, old mindset

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

| Wed, May 15, 2013 | 11:23 am

It is almost unthinkable that Toro Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka '€” Japan'€™s second largest city after Tokyo '€” has no sense of shame in repeating the irresponsible habits of several ultranationalist or right wing politicians who continue to irritate Japan'€™s neighbors, which suffered at the hands of Japanese military occupation before and during World War II.

The 43-year-old politician is cochair of the new Japan Restoration Party along with former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, a politician who still defends the '€œinnocence'€ of Japan in occupying other Asian countries.

It was very easy for the outspoken nationalist mayor to retract or apologize for his comment that Japan'€™s forced prostitution of Asian women '€” including in China, Korea and Indonesia '€” before and during the war, was necessary to '€œmaintain discipline'€ for Japanese soldiers. If one of the victims was Hashimoto'€™s own mother, would he have the same view?

Is this a slip of the tongue or a frank expression of dirty, old mindset of many Japanese politicians? World War II finished nearly seven decades ago, but a national figure like Hashimoto still has the gall to utter words that are unacceptable to most sane people. The Osaka mayor is not alone. There are some high-ranking politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), or in smaller parties, who behave in a similar manner.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently received strong political support from members of G-7. As reported by Associated Press, Japan'€™s stock market once again outperformed on Monday after officials from the world'€™s leading industrial economies refused to criticize the Bank of Japan'€™s super-easy monetary policy and the massive depreciation of yen it triggered.

Japan has been one of the most important economic locomotives for Asia (especially Southeast Asia) for decades, although China has replaced its position as the world'€™s second largest economy after the US.

The selfish and irresponsible behavior of Mayor Hashimoto, however, raises fears among neighbors that Japan will never be mature enough to accept mistakes, while the victims themselves bury their severe pain.