Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda lashed out Tuesday at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, demanding that he publicly denounce the rise in racist rallies in Japan, especially amid concern overseas of possible ties between some Cabinet members and members of far-right and anti-Korean groups.
“I want you to state unequivocally that neither the government nor the prime minister supports such ethnic discrimination and distorted nationalism,” Kaieda said in the Diet a day after Abe delivered a key policy speech.
“Tell us how you will regulate (it),” Kaieda demanded.
Following the Cabinet reshuffle on Sept. 3, several photos emerged on the Internet showing Cabinet members standing alongside known members of a neo-Nazi group and members of the anti-Korean Zaitokukai group.
The images sparked sharp criticism abroad.
In August, the United Nations Human Rights Committee urged Japan to outlaw hate speech amid an uptick in far-right-style rallies mainly denouncing Korean residents.
In response to Kaieda’s question, Abe said ethnic discrimination should not be condoned and the government will consider ways to tackle the problem.
“It’s highly regrettable that there are words and actions among some members of the public to eliminate ethnic groups. Such things should not be happening,” Abe said.
“I will consider (measures) based on (ongoing) discussions within the Liberal Democratic Party and on how the discussion develops among the public,” he added.
Abe also pledged to try to educate the public better on respecting others’ human rights.
Kaieda went on to criticize Abe’s policy to promote women in the workplace, saying it lacks measures for single mothers in desperate need of government support.
He said half of all single mothers in Japan are living below the poverty line, with an average annual income of only ¥2.34 million.
“What measures will you take for those women who are struggling to make ends meet and are unable to shine even though they want to?” Kaieda demanded.
In response, Abe stressed that his policy to create “a society where every woman shines” aims to empower all women, including single mothers in financial difficulty. He said his administration plans to compile a comprehensive package for women in the near future to achieve that.
“We need to create a society where all women, including single mothers and those struggling to look after their parents, can fully exercise their potential and have hope,” Abe said.