TOKYO, Feb. 19 -- Provocative statements by Katsuto Momii, the head of Japan's public broadcaster NHK, and its board member Naoki Hyakuta on Japan's invasion history have been widely criticized in Japan.
Several major newspapers published editorials, condemning their false theories. Tokyo News pointed out that Momii's move to normalize the "comfort women" issue would let people question his qualification to perform as public media's leader.
"The Japanese government should reflect itself. It is the new board members appointed by the Shinzo Abe's government that destabilized the publicity of NHK,"said Nihon Keizai Shimbun in its editorial. "NHK should maintain an organization structure independent of the government."
Momii told his first press conference as NHK president on Jan. 25 that "comfort women", who were forcibly recruited as sex slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II, were used in " every country" and that the practice should not be judged by " today's morality."
His remarks was followed by Naoki Hyakuta, a novelist and member of NHK's decision-making body, who said earlier this month that the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China had never happened, adding that the United States sought to cover up its own "crimes" such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by holding trials of Japan's wartime leaders.
The president of Democratic Party of Japan Banri Kaieda said last Saturday: "The Prime Minister (Abe) recommended his friends to NHK. Those people repeatedly made some remarks out of common sense. There must be the Prime Minister's thoughts in them."
According to local media, NHK has received more than 16,000 pieces of proposals from audiences to Momii, of which nearly 60 percent criticized his remarks.
Momii expressed "sincere remorse" on Tuesday amid mounting criticism of his remarks distorting Japanese wartime atrocities at the General Council of ruling Liberal Democratic Party, saying he would make a statement more cautiously in future, Japan's Kyodo News agency reported.
The comments of the two NHK senior officials were strongly condemned by China and South Korea, who suffered Japanese aggression. The U.S. ambassador to Japan also refused an interview with NHK on Monday partly due to the provocative statements.