New Cabinet ministers’ pasts coming back to haunt Abe


Staff Writer

One week after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet with an eye to the future, the past is coming back to haunt him: Revelations of controversial past statements and actions by his newly appointed ministers are drawing criticism abroad.

In a photo that appeared online Wednesday, new Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi is pictured with other politicians in a full-color ad in the magazine Tokyo Seikei Tsushin endorsing a 1994 book titled “Hitler’s Election Strategy.” Takaichi had only the year before been elected to the Diet as an independent.

A spokesman for Takaichi’s office confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that the photo was of her, but said she had no recollection of the book or of promoting it. The spokesman added that neither does she remember meeting the book’s author, Yoshio Ogai, then a public relations official with the Tokyo chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party.

In his book, Ogai praises Hitler for his ability to concentrate power and mold public opinion, and emphasizes there are lessons for Japan in that regard. There is no mention of the Holocaust.

The book was pulled from shelves after the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned its promotion of anti-democratic Nazi tactics.

Last week a photo of Takaichi standing alongside Kazunari Yamada, the leader of the National Socialist Japanese Workers Party, appeared on the neo-Nazi party’s website.

A spokesman for Takaichi said she had no idea who Yamada was at the time and that she does not in any way share his views about Nazi ideology.

Takaichi is not the only Cabinet member whose past actions and statements have been noticed in recent days by the international community. LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada was also photographed with Yamada but has since sought to distance herself from him.

And late last week, it was learned Justice Minister Midori Matsushima said during a meeting of the Lower House Legal Affairs Committee in March 2005 that creating a menu without pork for Iranian prison inmates for religious reasons felt very much like a case of unfair reverse discrimination.

“Politicians close to Abe can get away with such statements and actions because, at this point, I doubt the LDP has the discipline to rein them in,” said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University.

  • wada

    If it is politics, a photograph may be taken together with someone. The problem is what kind of achievement these cabinet members made. It is not together with whom to have taken the photograph.

    Let’s expect activity of their future.

  • astrologia

    The article is sound like nothing but unjustified complaint. The minister would meet many visitors every day. If there is any fault, it is carelessness.of the politicians. They should have gone into the visitors a little more.


  • Max Erimo

    These people being Japanese politicians, I fear we can expect little or no activity that will benefit the Japanese people as a whole. Successive governments and especially cabinet ministers have focussed only upon what benefits them and their chances of being re-elected.
    Until ordinary people become politicians nothing will change. Japan needs to get rid of the dynasties, old sporting figures and actors who can’t make it on TV any more. Big ask. Not holding my breath.
    Look at history. When has Japan changed.
    Sekigahara, Meiji Revolution, World War 2.
    If it’s not catstrophically big then Japan doesn’t move. Alas the earthquake of March 11 which is still talked about and the Fukushima problem which is less talked about failed to move the country.
    I truly am afraid to think of what kind of event is required for Japan to change.