TOKYO, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. ambassador to Japan avoided an interview with public broadcaster NHK partly due to its president's controversial remarks on wartime sex slavery, Kyodo News reported on Monday.
The U.S. embassy noted its disapproval of the remarks on "comfort women" made by Katsuto Momii, the head of NHK, as a reason for denying the interview request, Kyodo News reported citing "sources close to the decision."
The embassy also expressed its concern about controversial statements made by best-selling author Naoki Hyakuta, also an NHK board member who has described the U.S. air raids on Tokyo during World War II as "genocide" and has denied Japan's responsibility for the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
NHK's effort to interview U.S. ambassador Caroline Kennedy has not paid off because comments made by Momii and Hyakuta triggered "concerns by the ambassador and Washington that an appearance on NHK would negatively impact the country's image," according to the sources.
Momii made the controversial remarks on Jan. 25 during his first press conference as NHK president, when he told reporters that "comfort women," the euphemistic term for women forcibly recruited to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II, were used in "every country" and that the practice should not be judged by "today's morality."
He then went on to say that the issue was "complicated because South Korea says Japan was the only country that forcibly recruited" women.
Momii later apologized for the remarks, saying they represented his personal opinion.
Momii's remarks were strongly condemned by China and South Korea, who suffered the most during Japan's wartime atrocities.
"His words show that a force in Japan attempting to downplay or even deny Japan's war crimes," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily press briefing on Jan. 27.
Qin said that sexual slavery was a heinous crime committed by the Japanese military during the Second World War, which still harms victims' physical and mental health to this day.
"It is deplorable that the head of Japan's public broadcaster, who should remain fair and impartial, has distorted historical facts and made such a ridiculous claim," a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman said on Jan. 29.
"The thoughtless remark by the NHK chairman clearly illustrates that historical awareness among leading Japanese figures in Abe's Japan has diminished to a dangerous level," the spokesman said.
TOKYO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Provocative statements of top NHK officials on Japan's invasion history in the 1930s and 1940s have sparked widespread criticism and public anger in the island country. Full story
SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, known for his apology for past wartime atrocities while in office, said Tuesday that Japan should gain trust from Asian neighbors, stressing the need for Japan's fulfillment of its past apology. Full story
TOKYO, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Japan's national public broadcaster NHK has once again found itself in hot water as a recent slew of gaffes involving members of its board have culminated in one of the 12 single-handedly destroying the fabric of a media institution once globally revered for its high standards of broadcasting, based around a clear ethos of integrity and neutrality. Full story