Number three in a (possibly) continuing series....
Last week Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka and joint leader of Japan's Restoration Party, described the notorious "comfort women" system - the enforced prostitution, aka rape, of mostly Korean women during the war - as "necessary", giving Japanese soldiers a chance "to rest". Then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was photographed in a plane with the number 731. Whether by accident or by design, the allusion to the notorious war-time "Unit 731" didn't go down well in Korea and China.
Now co-leader of the Restoration Party Shintaro Ishihara, keen not to be left out, has entered the fray to criticise fellow leader Toru Hashimoto. But no, not for those "comfort women" remarks. Hashimoto's sin was, apparently, to admit that the Japanese in WW2 were engaging in acts of aggression:
"(What Hashimoto said) is different, completely different (from my opinion)."
"Everyone has been annoyed (by Hashimoto's remarks). One should speak in context. There is no point if he speaks based only on his own logic."
"What happened in the past is true, but one should speak after judging it based on modern-day moral values.
He should have a correct perspective on history and the world. If he wants to lead a nation, a perspective on the world and history is essential."
"(The war Japan fought) was not aggression. General Douglas MacArthur told a congressional testimony that it was for self-defense."
"Deprived of resources, (Japan) had no choice but to expand into Southeast Asia. White people could not allow Japanese, a colored people, to build a modern state."
"If one defines the war as aggression without such a historical perspective, it merely amounts to masochism or ignorance of history."
"In the modern era, all white people in Europe (colonized other parts of the world). The situation was the same throughout the world. It was an eat-or-be-eaten world in the modern era."
"It is wrong if Japanese, without considering such historical developments, define their own history in accordance with the set of values determined by the Tokyo war crimes tribunal, which tends to see things in black and white terms."
Although founded only last year, the Restoration Party is already a major and growing force in Japanese politics. And they do have at least some concern for their public image. Shingo Nishimura, a lower house law-maker, is, we learn, being forced out of the party after comments about how Japan is "swarming" with South Korean prostitutes. Poor Mr Nishimura may be wondering - as indeed am I - quite why his remarks are so wrong while Toru Hashimoto's comfort women comments are just fine. Because Hashimoto's the party leader? Or perhaps because Japanese men having sex with Korean women is just fine when it's rape and when it's over there, but not so fine when it's consensual, in Japan.