Friday, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura vowed to end the relationship after San Francisco officially designated as city property a statue memorializing WWII "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese brothels to service the country's soldiers.
“Our relationship of trust was completely destroyed,” Yoshimura said, according to the Asahi Shimbun. “I will dissolve the sister-city relationship.”Three Nebraska communities have sister city ties to two Japanese cities: Arapahoe and Hastings with Ozu and Omaha with Shizuoka.
...Despite attempts to block the installation of the statue from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco and a concerted email campaign from Japanese nationals, the statue was erected in St. Mary's Square on Sept. 23. ...At a news conference Friday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the San Francisco statue and others like it were “extremely regrettable” and that Japan would “continue making every effort so that things like this won’t happen again.”
However, the activists behind San Francisco's statue have said that the response to its installation angered them. “I think it's a shame,” Julie Tang, a retired San Francisco Superior Court judge, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday. “They’re turning history on its head. Yoshimura is turning this into a geopolitical issue. It’s not. It’s a human rights issue. This is a global women’s issue to fight against sexual violence and using women as sex objects as a strategy of war.”
The Japan Times reports that some politicians in the Osaka city assembly also were concerned that Yoshimura's actions could harm the city's reputation abroad, and petitioned him to find a solution through dialogue.
Nebraska's first international office, the Nebraska Center Japan, opened in Yokohoma in 2006 and is the main point of contact for Japanese businesses looking for business opportunities in Nebraska.
It is led by Koji Nagasaka, who serves as executive director of the office. Nagasaka-san leads a team promoting Nebraska’s products and services and connects Nebraska businesses with Japanese companies.