The Liberal Democratic Party gave Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka a slap on the wrist Wednesday for “unsuitable” remarks while stumping for an LDP candidate in the Upper House election last month, party officials said Wednesday.
After more than two hours of deliberations, the disciplinary committee decided to issue a warning to Tanaka and demand that she apologize to voters of Gunma Prefecture, the candidate, Mayumi Yoshikawa, and the party’s prefectural chapter, and report back to the panel within two weeks.
The committee will also ask Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who heads the party, and LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki to issue a strict warning to Tanaka not to repeat the mistake.
“Tanaka’s remark was unsuitable and terribly heartless toward a candidate who was struggling hard to be successful amid severe competition on the last day of the campaign,” the committee said.
While stumping for Yoshikawa in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, on July 28 — the day before voting — Tanaka said she didn’t know the candidate’s name or “whether the candidate was a male or female.”
She went on to ask the audience, “What is the name of the candidate?”
In Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, she made a quick speech an hour before schedule, left without waiting for Yoshikawa to arrive and jumped on a train to attend a concert in Niigata Prefecture.
Yoshikawa lost the election, her first attempt at a Diet seat.
The reprimand is the second-lightest punishment under the party’s disciplinary rules. The most severe penalty is removal from the party.
If Tanaka is unhappy with the reprimand, she can ask Koizumi for a review of the decision.
In a document submitted Tuesday to the committee, Tanaka reportedly expressed “deep regret” and “heartfelt apologies,” and said she will be careful about her actions and words in the future.
It is not the first time the outspoken Tanaka has been reprimanded.
The party issued a disciplinary warning after she said during the LDP presidential race in April that the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s death last May “serves him right,” because he increased the nation’s debt 100 trillion yen in a year.
“That’s why he kicked the bucket,” Tanaka told a crowd while stumping for Koizumi in the party race.
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