Shintaro Ishihara, co-leader of the Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), is not known for being the silent type. On the contrary, most Japanese would know him because of his apparent lack of PR (public relations) skills, always ready with a statement or sharp quip that would most likely offend, malign, or alienate people to him and his cause, whatever that may be. And the former governor of Tokyo was at it again, saying that Megumi Yokota, one of Japan’s most well-known North Korean abductees, most likely would have been a concubine because of her beauty.
Ishihara was out in Yokohama campaigning for his party’s candidates for the July 21 Upper House election when heard making this statement about Yokota, one of the 17 Japanese citizens believed to be kidnapped by North Korea in the late 70s, and has become a symbol of this tragic issue of abductions by Pyongyang; “As she is a typical Japanese beauty, she was forced to get married and give birth to a baby against her will,” Ishihara said of Yokota on July 12 in a speech on the street in Yokohama. “Now, she must have become a mistress of someone in a high position,” the hawkish politician added.
According to government data, Yokota was abducted in 1977 when she was 13 years old. North Korea has already admitted to abducting Japanese citizens in the 70s and 80s, even allowing five of them to return to Japan in 2002. The hermit country claims that the others are dead or that they never set foot in North Korea. About Yokota, Pyongyang claims that the Japanese woman committed suicide in 1994, but many in Japan believe that North Korea is lying, and that Yokota may still be alive. Many have been campaigning for her return.
As usual, Ishihara’s comments sparked thousands of angry reactions from Japanese netizens. But Ichiro Matsui, Japan Restoration Party’s secretary-general, said that Ishihara’s remark was intended to focus on the need to save abductees like Yokota and was heavily misinterpreted. “His remark means that, through all measures, we have to rescue a person who has been deprived of her freedom and is living a hard life,” Matsui said.
[via Japan Crush]