• Kyodo

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Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa apologized Thursday for calling foreigners “sneaky thieves,” declaring that he wanted to retract the slur.

Matsuzawa told a news conference that the “inappropriate” remarks were a display of his “excessive passion” in trying to convey the need for better crime control.

While stumping for a candidate running in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, Matsuzawa said that “all foreigners are sneaky thieves.”

“Because (Tokyo) Gov. (Shintaro) Ishihara is clamping down (on crime in the capital), they are flooding into Kanagawa,” Matsuzawa told a crowd outside Mizonokuchi Station on the Tokyu Line.

But after the speech, Matsuzawa told reporters that what he meant to say was that foreigners “with working and student visas” are sneaky thieves, not all foreigners.

On Thursday, Matsuzawa said, “There is a marked rise in the number of cases in which some foreigners who enter Japan on working and other visas remain (in Japan) illegally and commit heinous crimes.

“My view is that such crimes need to be stamped out.”

Officials said the prefectural government has received about 100 e-mails in response to the governor’s comments. Some criticized him and others expressed support, they said without elaborating.

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