The embattled NHK chief, who became caught in the middle of controversy over insensitive remarks about the issue of sexual slavery, maintained that he would remain impartial as head of the public broadcast group. Katsuto Momii was criticized last month for saying that women forced into sexual slavery during the Second World War were “common in any country at war.”
Momii has since apologized for the comments, which earned him the ire of the Chinese, South Koreans and even much of the Japanese public. Speaking to lawmakers who are discussing NHK’s annual budget, Momii said, ‘The most important thing is that all NHK staff strictly adhere to the principles of freedom of expression, political neutrality and fairness.” He also noted the controversy he was involved in, saying, “That I offered personal views at my inaugural press conference was inappropriate, and I will be more cautious in the future.” While he has already expressed regret over this, no effort was made to retract his remarks, which casted some doubts on the integrity of the broadcasting firm. Many rights groups and a Japanese journalist association have already called for Momii to step down, but Abe’s administration were bent on keeping itself from the furor and described it as “comments made as individual.”
Some reports have surfaced that Momii’s statements regarding the issue of “comfort women” have cost the national broadcaster a chance to interview the daughter of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy and current ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy. Officials from the US Embassy in Japan have not confirmed the reports as of the moment.
[via Channel News Asia]