Even six decades of sister city relationship was not enough to welcome Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto in visiting San Francisco. Osaka City officials revealed on Monday that a letter from a San Francisco official was sent to keep Hashimoto from visiting the city. Hashimoto was supposed to visit The City by the Bay and The Big Apple this month to meet with US officials.
The letter from the San Francisco official, who also happened to be Hashimoto’s liaison for the trip, was received by Osaka on May 22. Though translated right away for Hashimoto, its content was not made public. However, it was revealed that the letter states what Hashimoto could expect if he pursues his trip in the Bay Area. It was made known to Hashimoto that San Francisco will not consider his trip official or a courtesy call although it admitted to be in no position of stopping him for a private trip. The letter also warned of the stand of San Francisco’s people against Hashimoto.
The Osaka mayor has recently caused a stir with his statement regarding “comfort women” during the Second World War, calling them “necessary” for the Japanese soldiers. Although Japan’s offense was committed to Asian women, the statement of Hashimoto made its reverberation even in the West. San Francisco is known as a leader in women’s human rights movements as well as anti-violence programs. City Mayor Edwin Lee admitted to be “disappointed” and “offended” with his insensitivity. In addition, a statement from San Francisco Department on the Status of Women was released last month condemning Hashimoto’s words and calling them “damaging.”
It was concluded in the letter that cancelling Hashimoto’s trip would do better for Osaka’s security and economic development. His trip was also said to hurt Osaka’s image. Hashimoto initially intended to pursue his trip, but eventually heeded the letter from San Francisco because of expected protests that would welcome him, instead of warm greetings from US officials.
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