Japan expressed strong regret Friday over San Francisco’s decision to give city property status to a statue commemorating Asian women who worked in military brothels for Japanese troops during World War II, with Osaka declaring it will terminate its 60-year sister-city ties.
The signing of legislation making the memorial public property “destroyed trust,” Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said. “We will scrap our sister-city relationship with San Francisco.” He said Osaka will no longer contribute public money to privately organized cultural exchanges between the two cities.
The statue was erected by California’s Korean, Chinese and Filipino communities.
Historians say tens of thousands of women around Asia were sent to work in Japanese military brothels, often through coercion and deception. Japan apologized in 1993 but the issue has remained an open rift with its neighbors, particularly South Korea which has strong memories of Japan’s brutal colonization from 1910 to 1945.