August 02, 2013 09:16
Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday retracted remarks made a day earlier that Japan should learn from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in changing its pacifist constitution without arousing public concern. The remarks were met by a storm of international criticism.
"Germany's Weimar constitution was changed before anyone realized… Why don't we learn from that technique?" Aso had been quoted as saying.
On Thursday, he said he regretted the "misunderstanding." "I invited misunderstanding as a result and I would like to withdraw the statement in which I cited the Nazi regime as an example," he said.
He faces mounting calls from within Japan to resign, with critics accusing him of ignorance and saying his comments reveal the true face of the Abe administration.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday said people should be asking Aso what he really meant. But as international criticism mounted and the Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded clarification, Suga indirectly criticized Aso, saying during a press conference Thursday that the Japanese government "does not perceive the Nazi Germany in a positive light."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement, "The only lessons on governance that the world should draw from the Nazi Third Reich is how those in positions of power should not behave."
Foreign governments and the international media also lambasted Aso's comments. The Washington Post said they exposed his "lack of understanding" of history, which "hurt Japan's national interest."
China's official Global Times said Aso voluntarily exposed his foolishness. Reuters said the Abe administration's "push to take a less apologetic tone in Japan’s diplomacy and his interpretations of wartime history have attracted repeated criticism from countries such as the two Koreas and China, which suffered under harsh Japanese rule before and during the war."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Wednesday warned that Japanese politicians saying publicly that they intend to use Nazi tactics in revising its constitution "can only trigger the concerns of the international community."
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