Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has fired a senior aide over homophobic remarks. Masayoshi Arai made comments about not wanting to live next to an LGBTQ couple and “would not even want to see them” in an off-record conversation with outlet NHK. Arai quickly retracted his comments after they were made public. In an on-record conversation with reporters, Arai apologized for having used expressions that could cause misunderstanding.
Prime Minister Kishida, however, told reporters that the comments were taken very seriously and Arai was removed from his post shortly after. “The remarks were outrageous and completely out of line with the Cabinet’s approach to respecting diversity and creating an inclusive society,” Kishida said.
Before the retraction, Arai made these comments after discussing Kishida’s apprehension towards legalizing same-sex marriage in Japan. Prime Minister Kishida is preparing to host the G7 Summit this upcoming May. Arai’s comments add further insult to injury, as Japan is the only G7 nation that does not acknowledge same-sex marriage.
Arai’s dismissal is another blow for Kishida’s government, after a slew of controversial statements made by other cabinet members this past year. In the last three months, four ministers have resigned due to controversial financial irregularities within the Unification Church. And last December, law maker Mio Sugita was forced to resign after her comments about the LGBTQ community and Japan’s indigenous Ainu community were made public.
Kishida’s approval ratings are at a record low of just 35%.
Featured image: Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan (Photo by Lev Radin)