Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura gave an exclusive interview to the Sankei Shimbun on Nov. 13 on the plans by its sister city San Francisco to designate a comfort women statue and memorial as public property. The mayor said that the Japanese city “will end sister city ties [with San Francisco] within the year” if the statue and the monument are designated as public property even though a meeting with San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, sought by Osaka City, is not materialized.
A group of Chinese-Americans built the statue and the memorial, which describes comfort women as “sex slaves,” in San Francisco to donate them to the municipal government. Osaka Mayor Yoshimura has stated that “if the city of San Francisco accepts the donated memorial, then the sister city agreement will be dissolved.”
Yoshimura sounded out Lee on holding a meeting in November. But the American mayor declined, saying the schedule was not convenient. Yoshimura is now asking his American counterpart to meet in December but has not received a response as of Nov. 13. The San Francisco city assembly is scheduled to adopt a resolution to accept the donated memorial at a plenary session on Nov. 14 (Nov. 15 Japan time.)
In the interview, Yoshimura underscored that San Francisco’s decision to accept the statue and the memorial is equal to “Japan-bashing or Osaka-bashing” and “a relationship of trust, the premise for sister city relations, cannot be built.”
The cancellation of a sister city agreement does not require approval by the city assembly and a mayor can make the final decision.