National / Politics

In latest gaffe, LDP lawmaker compares 'frustrating' work with Saga Prefecture to 'dealing with the Koreas'

Kyodo, Staff Report

Yaichi Tanigawa, 77, a Lower House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party representing Nagasaki Prefecture’s No. 3 constituency, apologized Sunday for saying that working with Saga Prefecture over the delayed construction of a part of the Kyushu Shinkansen line “is like dealing with South or North Korea.”

Tanigawa, a member of the ruling bloc’s committee dealing with the plan to create the Nagasaki spur, which will connect Fukuoka and Nagasaki prefectures by branching out from Shintosu Station in Saga Prefecture, made the remark Saturday while inspecting a tunnel construction site in Nagasaki Prefecture.

The route in Nagasaki is already under construction and is expected to open temporarily in fiscal 2022, but Saga Prefecture has been opposed to the plan to build a bullet train line in the prefecture because of high construction and maintenance costs.

While he was inspecting the tunnel, Tanigawa also said that in April, at the committee’s meeting in Tokyo, he told Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi that he hopes the two can build a relationship “much like the one between Japan and Taiwan.”

Saga Prefectural Government officials criticized the remarks, saying that “decisions on the construction plan can’t be made quickly” and the comments from Tanigawa were “extremely inappropriate.”

Tanigawa’s remarks came after the LDP handed out a code of conduct to its lawmakers earlier this month, warning them to watch their mouths to prevent blunders from affecting their political careers.

“What is this person saying … I can’t believe this,” Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan deputy head Renho tweeted Sunday.

Tanigawa told reporters Sunday that his comments were inappropriate and that he wishes to revise them.

Tanigawa said the lack of progress in construction is “frustrating” and that what he meant to say was that he wanted “both sides to work together by thinking about each other’s positions.”

Yamaguchi told the Yomiuri Shimbun he hopes Tanigawa will “work together with Saga Prefecture sincerely. A calm discussion is necessary.”