The mayor of Glendale, California sparked calls for his ouster last week by telling a Japanese TV channel that a statue in the city commemorating World War II sex slaves was a mistake.
The town was the first in the U.S. to put up a statue in memory of the Asian women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army.
"We opened a beehive, a hornet's nest," Mayor Dave Weaver told Channel Sakura. "We just shouldn't have done it."
Glendale, which counts many ethnic Koreans among its population of 200,000, erected the 1-m statue on July 30. It is a replica of one that stands in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and was placed atop a stone slab explaining the history of what the Japanese euphemistically call "comfort women."
Weaver became mayor after the city council voted in favor the statue and was the only one among the city’s five council members who opposed it.
"I understand we're the most hated city in Japan now, which I deeply regret," Weaver said, adding that he received more than 1,000 emails about the memorial.
The city council deems Weaver's comments as a direct rejection of its decision, which constitutes grounds for dismissal. A council official said the issue should be dealt with in a meeting next week.