Five female Nobel Peace Prize laureates issued a statement in Northern Ireland on Thursday slamming Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto over his remarks on Japan's wartime system of military brothels. The five winners, who gathered at a three-day conference of the Nobel Women's Initiative in Belfast on the impact of war on women, said they "condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent deplorable remarks" by Hashimoto.
The statement was issued by U.S. anti-land mine campaigner Jody Williams, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee as well as Mairead Maguire, who worked to end violence in Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum, who promotes the rights of indigenous people in Guatemala. The laureates, who received their peace prizes between 1976 and 2011, said in the statement, “Sexual slavery in wartime is a form of gender violence and is today defined as war crime.”
The crimes committed against the 'comfort women' continue to cause terrible pain for individuals and their families, and contribute to the continued tensions, enmity and mistrust in East Asia today.