• Kyodo


Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on Wednesday commented on the planned summit between Washington and Pyongyang with a comment appearing to ridicule an aged airplane used by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I hope that awful-looking airplane will safely fly to Singapore because it failing on the way would be no laughing matter,” Aso said at a gathering in Tokyo.

Aso, who also serves as finance minister, was apparently referring to the North Korean leader’s official plane — a remodeled version of the Soviet-made IL-62 — which will likely carry Kim to Singapore for a planned June 12 summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Aso, however, made the remark while welcoming recent developments leading up to the summit.

The lawmaker has already faced a barrage of criticism for saying there is “no such thing as a sexual harassment charge” under the Penal Code, shortly after his ministry’s top bureaucrat resigned over allegations of sexual harassment against a female reporter.

The 77-year-old also made comments Wednesday that appeared to ridicule fellow lawmakers, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He touched on the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election in 2012, in which Abe defeated Shigeru Ishiba, the party’s secretary-general, and Nobuteru Ishihara, who later became a state minister.

“If the other choices are someone who looks gloomy and someone who is not so smart, the best thing to do would be to pick the one whose tummy hurts,” Aso said.

Abe is known to suffer from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

This week, North Korea abruptly suspended inter-Korean ministerial talks slated for Wednesday, citing joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, and threatened to cancel the Trump-Kim summit.

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