28 Jan 2014

NHK chief apologises for comments about wartime women

6:00 am on 28 January 2014

The new head of Japan's national broadcaster has apologised for comments he made on the military's use of sex slaves during World War II.

NHK chief Katsuto Momii said his remarks, that the practice was common in any country at war, were "very inappropriate".

Chief cabinet spokesman said Mr Momii "made the comment as an individual" and not as NHK chief.

But lawmakers in South Korea where many woman were forced into prostitution - have called for Mr Momii to resign.

Up to 200,000 comfort women are estimated to have been forced to work in Japan's military brothels in World War II. Women from China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia were also forced into service.

Mr Momii, who is the newly-appointed head of the NHK, made the comments during a press conference on Saturday.

He said "such women could be found in any nation that was at war, including France and Germany" and described international anger as "puzzling".

But he apologised for his comments on Monday. "It is my lack of discretion in that I didn't understand the various rules," he said.

"I think it was very inappropriate that I made the comments at such places," he said.