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Children with African roots in Japan have protested a November remark by lawmaker Kozo Yamamoto in which he questioned why a fellow ruling party member involved in exchanges with African countries liked “such a black thing.”

Forty-two children and young people belonging to the African Kids Club of the nonprofit Africa Japan Forum sent an open letter to Yamamoto saying, “We are extremely disappointed to hear such a statement and strongly protest against this kind of behavior.”

The Lower House member, who formerly served as regional revitalization minister, made the comment during a meeting in Kitakyushu on Nov. 23, referring to fellow Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Asahiko Mihara, who has long been involved in exchanges with African nations.

“What I can’t understand is (Mihara’s) passion for Africa,” Yamamoto said while introducing his colleague during the meeting.

The children said Yamamoto made “a racist remark” and spoke “with contempt.”

“Such a remark being presented by a parliamentarian and by an ex-minister will cause distrust toward Japan among African nations, and even on a much larger global scale,” they said, requesting his sincere apology and a chance to directly talk to the lawmaker.

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