WASHINGTON, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Thursday denounced the "outrageous and offensive" remarks made by Japan's Osaka mayor regarding wartime sex slaves exploited by the Japanese military, or the so-called "comfort women."
"Mayor Hashimoto's comments were outrageous and offensive," department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, as Toru Hashimoto, who also heads Japan's Restoration Party, said on Monday that sexual servitude by women was "necessary" for Japanese soldiers during World War II in order to "maintain discipline" in the military.
"As the United States has stated previously, what happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions," Psaki told reporters at a regular press briefing.
"We extend again our sincere and deep sympathy to the victims, and we hope that Japan will continue to work with its neighbors to address this and other issues arising from the past and cultivate relationships that allow them to move forward," she added.
Hashimoto's remarks have sparked outrage in places like China, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines and Japan itself.
Mike Honda and Steve Israel, both members of U.S. House of Representative, on Wednesday condemned the remarks as "repulsive" and "disgusting." Israel again urged the Japanese government to offer a "formal acknowledgment and apology" over the issue.