DPJ exec Maehara prods defense chief Ichikawa to quit

Kyodo

Democratic Party of Japan policy chief Seiji Maehara prodded Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa to resign on TV Saturday as opposition cries rose over an ill-chosen comment he made while discussing a gaffe, with sexual assault innuendo, committed by his Okinawa affairs chief earlier in the week.

Ichikawa told a Thursday Diet session he did “not know in detail” about the horrendous rape of a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa committed by three U.S. servicemen in 1995, an incident not related to the recent gaffe.

Maehara told the TV talk show Ichikawa’s lack of detailed knowledge of the 1995 crime was a problem. Maehara later hinted Ichikawa should quit, noting, “He has too much more to learn.

“Whether to resign is a matter a politician should decide on his own. It’s not something to be told by others to do,” Maehara said, using standard Nagata-cho code prodding.

During a visit Friday to Okinawa Prefecture, Ichikawa said he wanted to stay in office but apologized to Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima for the disparaging remarks made by then Okinawa Defense Bureau chief Satoshi Tanaka about the contentious plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and more specifically about the environmental impact report to be submitted to the prefecture on the relocation site beforehand.