OSAKA--Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura decided to end the 60-year sister-city relationship with San Francisco over a “comfort women” monument set up in the California city.

“Our relationship of trust was completely destroyed,” Yoshimura said Nov. 24. “I will dissolve the sister-city relationship.”

Yoshimura had asked San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee for a meeting about the monument, but the city declined the request by e-mail on Nov. 23. The e-mail said there is no room for discussion over the comfort women statue, according to an Osaka city official.

“Comfort women,” a euphemism for women forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, has long been a sticking point in diplomatic relations between Japan and its neighbors in Asia.

The 3-meter-tall monument depicts three young women from the Korean Peninsula, China and the Philippines standing in a circle holding hands on a pedestal. A statue of an elderly Korean comfort woman standing on the ground looks up at the girls.

A private group of Chinese-Americans and others erected the monument in September in the city’s Chinatown.

The inscription on the monument states that hundreds of thousands of girls and women were sexually enslaved by Japanese forces from 1931 to 1945, and many of them died in captivity.

Yoshimura had earlier said the monument goes “against the standpoint of the Japanese government,” and warned that he would end the sister-city relationship if the San Francisco government accepted the monument.

Mayor Lee signed a resolution on Nov. 22, saying the city accepts the monument.

Under the sister-city ties, Osaka city has provided subsidies for exchange programs operated by private groups.

“I have no plans to use tax money from Osaka citizens (for the programs),” Yoshimura told reporters at the Osaka city office.

Osaka city plans to give a formal notice to San Francisco about dissolving the sister-city relationship in December after explaining the decision to the Osaka city assembly and holding meetings with top city officials.

At a Nov. 24 news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said about the monument, “It is extremely regrettable.”