"That is why I rise today to condemn the unfortunate remarks of the mayor of Osaka, Japan, who as recently as yesterday denied the existence of comfort women," Royce said on the House floor. "The mayor not only questioned the existence of comfort women, but he sought to justify the use of 'a comfort woman system' as a means to boost morale for the military."

"The mayor's remarks are absolutely outrageous, and it adds insult to injury for survivors and their families," Royce said.

Hashimoto was reported as saying that for Japanese soldiers risking their lives during the war, "if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary."

Royce indicated that Hashimoto's comments are a sign of rising "ultra-nationalism" in Japan.

"The rise of ultra-nationalism in Japan is very worrisome, and as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I strongly condemn it," he said.