TOKYO–The newly appointed head of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK has stirred controversy by saying the system of forcibly drafting women into military brothels during World War II was “common in any country at war.” Katsuto Momii’s comment on Saturday came after popular Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto prompted global outrage last year by suggesting that the so-called “comfort women” served a “necessary” role by keeping battle-stressed soldiers in check. Up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and elsewhere were forced into brothels catering to the Japanese military in territories occupied by Japan during WWII, according to many mainstream historians. The military brothel system was “common in any country at war,” Momii told his first news conference as NHK chairman on Saturday.
“Can we say there were none in Germany or France? It was everywhere in Europe,” he said, according to reports.