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Japan’s deputy PM retracts remark seeming to praise Hitler

Taro Aso admits comment that Nazi leader had ‘good intentions’ was inappropriate and caused misunderstanding

Japan's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso posing before a meeting during a G7 summit of Finance Ministers in Bari, May 13, 2017. (AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI)
Japan's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso posing before a meeting during a G7 summit of Finance Ministers in Bari, May 13, 2017. (AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI)

TOKYO — Japan’s deputy prime minister on Wednesday retracted a comment he made a day earlier that seemed to praise the motives of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Taro Aso was speaking at a seminar for his faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday when he said: “I don’t question a politician’s motives; it is delivering results that matter. Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good, even if his intentions had been good.”

Aso said that remark was “inappropriate” and he would like to retract it and regretted having caused a misunderstanding. He said he meant that Hitler was a bad leader with bad intentions.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a US-based Jewish human rights organization, denounced the comment as “downright dangerous.” Official at the center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper asked, “When will the elite of Japan wake up and acknowledge that they have a ‘Nazi Problem’?”

Aso is also the finance minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet and served as Japan’s prime minister in 2008-9.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said after Aso retracted his statement that the deputy prime minister “should make his own explanation when the time comes.”

Aso in 2008 was criticized for comparing the tactics of the Democratic Party of Japan to those of Nazis in 1930s Germany. And in 2013 he withdrew a comment that seemed to suggest Japanese leaders should follow Nazi Germany’s example in changing the constitution.

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