Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso added to his list of inappropriate comments, referring to Adolf Hitler’s “correct motivations” in a speech to lawmakers in his ruling party.
“What matters are results. Hitler killed millions, so no matter if he had correct motivations, he’s still bad,” Aso said on Tuesday in Yokohama.
After the speech was reported by local media, Aso, who is also finance minister, issued a statement retracting the comments, saying he referred to Hitler as an example of a bad politician.
“It was inappropriate to use Hitler as an example, and I retract that,” Aso said, according to the statement posted at the ministry. “That I am very opposed to Hitler is clear from the entirety of my remarks, and it’s clear that Hitler’s motivations were wrong.”
“My comments differ from my feelings and it’s regrettable that they caused misunderstanding,” he said.
Kazunori Yamanoi, a senior member of the main opposition Democratic Party, said this “is a massive gaffe.”
“It’s incredibly shameful for a cabinet member,” Yamanoi told reporters at parliament, according to Kyodo News. “It raises questions about his fitness” for the role.
Aso, who is 76, has made remarks about Hitler before and withdrawn them. In 2013 he retracted remarks in which he said Japan could learn from the Nazis about how to change the constitution.
He has a history of making rude or insensitive remarks. In 2016 he wondered aloud how long a 90-year old pensioner intended to keep living, according to a report from Kyodo, and once said that he wanted Japan to be a country where “rich Jews” would want to live.