Japanese Beauty Queen in Storm Over Sex Slaves Remarks

Ikumi Yoshimatsu Ikumi Yoshimatsu

A Japanese beauty queen has become the target of abuse after saying that she is "embarrassed" by the behavior of Japanese politicians who question their country's responsibility for forcing women into sexual slavery in World War II.

Ikumi Yoshimatsu won the 2012 Miss International beauty contest.

On a CBS radio program on March 29, Yoshimatsu talked about the former sex slaves with host and women's rights activist Robin Morgan. She was asked her opinion about the claims of rightwing Japanese politicians that there is no need for Tokyo to apologize to the former sex slaves, since they were prostitutes.

Yoshimatsu said she is "embarrassed" by such views and "angered" by lawmakers who felt it was wrong to compensate the women.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and others in his government and party want to revise a 1993 statement in which then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono admitted that the Japanese Imperial Army was involved, directly and indirectly, in the sexual enslavement of Asian women for troops.

Once Yoshimatsu's comments became public knowledge in Japan, rightwingers there started mobilizing against her. People posted comments on her Facebook page accusing her of being an "international embarrassment" and a "dumb beauty queen."

Yoshimatsu graduated from the prestigious University of the Sacred Heart in Japan, a private women's university with over 100 years of history and alma mater of Empress Michiko.

Yoshimatsu apologized on the social media, saying some of her words may have been lost in translation and reiterating that she was referring to women who had been forced into sexual slavery. She added she was saddened by the fact that the so-called comfort women had been forced to undergo such horrific treatment.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 10, 2014 10:39 KST