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  • First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 28th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Well, well, what surprising news tonight.  Ministry of Transport etc. resigned today over comments he made, among others, about Japan’s ethnic homogeneity.  As I wrote two days ago, I’m pleased that comments like these aren’t allowed to pass any more.  

    Then again, it’s probably not so surprising — given a litany of comments this twit has a habit of making, such as calling Japan’s largest teacher’s union a “cancer for Japanese education”.  See second article below.

    In the longer view, however, this resignation isn’t all that earth-shattering.  This first Aso Cabinet was always meant to be a stopgap measure until the next election in a month and change.  But it can’t help the LDP’s image to have this much “thoroughbredness” (or, in my view, inbredness, the media has talked a lot about Aso and company’s relatives as political giants) — and it will (hopefully) convince the voters that the Tired Old Party needs a break from power.  Debito in Haneda


    New Japanese minister steps down

    Nariaki Nakayama  

    Mr Nakayama had made a series of controversial remarks

    Japanese Transport Minister Nariaki Nakayama has resigned, just four days after taking the job.

    BBC News, Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Sunday, 28 September 2008 09:19 UK

    The resignation will be seen as a setback for new Prime Minister Taro Aso, who took office on Wednesday.

    Mr Nakayama was criticised over a series of controversial remarks. He called Japan’s largest teachers’ union a “cancer” in the education system.

    He also angered Japan’s indigenous Ainu people last week, when he described the country as ethnically homogeneous.

    The remark was seen as particularly insensitive because Japanese parliament passed a landmark resolution in June recognising the Ainu as “an indigenous people with a distinct language, religion and culture”.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said the controversy of Mr Nakayama had been “damaging”.

    “We must show the people how hard the Aso government is working, and try to win back the public’s confidence. That is all that we can do,” he told a news conference.

    ‘Birth machines’

    Mr Nakayama is no stranger to controversy, having previously angered China by saying that reports of Japanese wartime atrocities, including the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, were exaggerated.

    He joins a growing line of Japanese ministers who have risked their jobs by sharing unguarded opinions.


    Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso speaks at the UN General Assembly in New York (25/09/2008)  

    Mr Aso is under pressure to call a general election

    Earlier this month, farm minister Seiichi Ota resigned after admitting that his ministry had known about a rice contamination scandal but that he had seen no need to make “too much of a fuss over it”.

    Fumio Kyuma resigned as defence minister in July 2007 after implying that the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 was inevitable.

    And in January 2007, former health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa was sharply criticised for referring to women as “birth-giving machines” during discussions about Japan’s low birth rate.

    Mr Nakayama, a former minister for education, had said he would “stand at the forefront to destroy the Japan Teachers’ Union, which is a cancer for Japanese education”.

    Defending his comments, he said he had “meant to stir the interest of the Japanese people that distorted education is now conducted in schools”.

    “If my remarks have made any impact on parliamentary proceedings, it would not be what I had intended,” he said.

    The union’s secretary general said he was “flabbergasted” by the comments” and questioned Mr Nakayama’s judgement.

    Low support

    Pressure is growing on Mr Aso to call a snap election in a effort to shore up his authority.

    His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has dominated Japanese politics for more than 50 years, but is now facing a resurgent opposition.

    The latest newspaper opinion polls show public support for Mr Aso at lower than 50% and the country is facing stormy economic conditions.

    Last week, Japan announced its sharpest fall in economic output in almost seven years.

    The last prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, resigned earlier this month after less than a year in office, frustrated by the ability of the opposition-controlled upper house of parliament to stymie his legislative plans.



    LEAD: Nakayama calls schoolteachers’ union ‘cancer,’ dismissal calls to rise+
    Sep 27 05:07 AM US/EasternCourtesy of Dave Spector  
    (AP) – MIYAZAKI, Japan, Sept. 27 (Kyodo)—(EDS: UPDATING WITH MORE REMARKS)   

    New transport minister Nariaki Nakayama, already embroiled in fallout from a series of comments seen as verbal gaffes he made since his appointment this week, called the nation’s biggest school teachers’ union “cancer” on Saturday and said it should be disbanded.


    The latest remark, combined with others he made earlier, is expected to prompt opposition parties to intensify calls for Prime Minister Taro Aso to dismiss him.

    His possible dismissal would deal a blow to Aso’s Cabinet as the prime minister is seeking to dissolve the House of Representatives at an early date for a general election.

    At a meeting in Miyazaki organized by the prefectural chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Nakayama said, “I’ve been thinking Nikkyoso should be disbanded.”

    Nikkyoso refers to the Japan Teachers Union, the nation’s largest union of schoolteachers and staff members.

    “I have things to say about Nikkyoso. The biggest problem is that it opposes ethics education. Some of the people in Nikkyoso have taken actions that are unthinkable to me,” he said, in apparent reference to the demonstration union members staged around the Diet buildings in Tokyo in 2006.

    At the time, lawmakers were deliberating revisions to the Fundamental Law of Education in an extraordinary session of parliament.

    The revisions that passed the Diet and were enforced in December 2006 were aimed at instilling patriotism in classrooms and nurturing respect for the public spirit.

    After Saturday’s meeting, the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister told reporters, “I will stand at the forefront to destroy Nikkyoso, which is a cancer for Japanese education.”

    He also said of his ministerial post, “I don’t mean to cling to my post saying, ‘I will never resign.’ I want to see what happens.”

    In media interviews this week, Nakayama, a former education minister, said the union is to blame for the bribery scandal involving the Oita prefectural board of education.

    “The woeful state of Oita Prefecture’s board of education boils down to Nikkyoso. Nikkyoso (members’) children can become teachers even if their grades are bad. That’s why the aptitude levels in Oita Prefecture are low,” he said.

    In the media interviews, Nakayama also referred to the government’s policy to attract foreign tourists to Japan and called Japan “ethnically homogenous,” a description that drew protests in 1986 from the Ainu indigenous people when then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone made a similar remark.

    Nakayama also said that those who have engaged in years of struggle against the construction of Narita airport near Tokyo are “more or less squeaky wheels, or I believe they are (the product) of bad postwar education.”

    The series of controversial remarks have drawn complaints from lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties, with the opposition camp calling for his immediate dismissal from the Cabinet post.

    Nakayama has retracted the series of remarks in the media interviews and apologized.





    3 Responses to “First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix”

    1. gary Says:

      and he also said “japanese people dont like foreigners ” just this week..
      they say a country gets the politician it deserves… and the japanese public are an apathetic lot when it comes to politics…ho hum,
      I feel like im living in the 1950s
      wish I could vote , but I would never give up my own passport to a country that doesnt care for me, My wife has never voted

      wish the japanese people would wake up and kick this lot out. Change the TV coverage get more politics on, ban the press club system, and get rid of the IQ lowering, keep the people subservient, variety programs…

    2. dougglug Says:

      Comments aside – what is the minister for transport and land (? very dodgy combination to begin with if you ask me) doing talking about the Japanese ethnic race (home office) and the teachers union (ministry of Eduacation)? Why doesn’t he complain about all the kickbacks politicians get from granting more traffic lights (signals) and the HUGE corruption between all the building firms in this country – surely that is more in his field … sorry – just thought he might be a politician that might actually do his job. Jeez – If I could be Prime Minister just for one day …

    3. Ira Bea Says:

      Your readers may be interested or a slightly different take on Mr.Nakayama’s reckless comments.

      What they make of the information and opinions are, of course, up to them, but it may make interesting reading.

      The world seems to have so many “professional victims” and unfortunately they may be diminishing the support for the genuine victims. The appalling conditions of the Africans working for Chinese companies in the Congo springs to mind.

      Can’t seem to make this a link, so you’ll have to cut and paste.

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