Aso Taro: Japanese Politician Under Fire (Again) For Sexist Comments

Aso Taro: Japanese Politician Under Fire (Again) For Sexist Comments

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Aso Taro
The Liberal Democratic Party's Aso Taro can't seem to open his mouth without a sexist comment flying out - and his latest is a doozy.

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Vice President Tarō Asō (麻生太郎), 83, is under fire for sexist statements yet again.

During a speech on Sunday in Ashiya, Fukuoka, Asō sprinkled rude comments about Foreign Minister Yōko Kamikawa’s (上川陽子) appearance on top of praising her work performance since assuming the role in September 2023.

Asō said, “I wouldn’t call her beautiful, but she speaks confidently, properly speaks English, and schedules meetings with people she needs to meet without the help of diplomats.”

During his speech, Asō also mistakenly referred to Kamikawa as “Kamimura” twice.

Despite being older than Kamikawa, who turns 71 on March 1st, Asō called her an “old lady” in a backhanded insult.

“Even from us men’s perspective, this old lady is impressive.”

In the same speech, Asō went on to discount the two female Foreign Ministers, Makiko Tanaka (2001-2002) and Tanaka Junko (2002-2004), when he said “I don’t think there has been a past case of a woman becoming Japan’s Foreign Minister.”

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Opposition criticizes Asō

In response to Asō’s indecent comments on Kamikawa, Secretary General of the Japanese Communist Party Akira Koike expressed his disdain at a press conference on Monday.

“[Asō’s comments on Sunday about Kamikawa] are the worst of among his reckless remarks to this day. They are extremely outrageous and shameful statements,” Koike criticized.

Koike continued to point out that Asō’s speech highlighted prejudice fueled by lookism rather than gender bias.

A reputation that is old news

Man and woman balanced against each other on scales
Picture: mayucolor / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Asō has a reputation for pelting out controversial comments, rather shamelessly.

In June 2020, Asō as serving Finance Minister of the time, said that Japan’s relatively low mortality rate from the coronavirus reflects the country’s higher “level of cultural standards.”

In 2018 and 2019, Asō won the grand prize for the most sexist comments, an award presented by the Japanese feminist group NOASEPS (short for No to All Sexist Public Speeches).

In the first year, Asō won for a comment he made defending former Administrative Vice Minister Junichi Fukuda amid sexual harassment allegations. Fukuda resigned in April 2018 after the weekly magazine Shūkan Shincho (週刊新潮) published an article including audio evidence exposing his sexual harassment against a female TV Asahi reporter.

In response, Asō offered sympathy to Fukuda, saying ” If [the female TV Asahi reporter] disliked receiving such comments, she should just leave and go home. We should just put male reporters in charge of covering the Finance Ministry. What’s the problem if he didn’t touch her?”

At a press conference in May that year, Asō said “There is no such thing as criminal sexual harassment.”

The following year, Asō won the NAOSEPS award for the second year in a row for blaming women for Japan’s declining birth rate.

“The elderly aren’t the problem. Those who don’t give birth are the problem,” Aso declared – blaming the declining population on women.

Sources

[1] 麻生氏、上川外相の容姿に言及 「そんなに美しい方とは言わない」. 朝日新聞

[2] 「麻生氏発言は最悪の暴言」 上川外相の容姿言及に共産小池氏. 東京新聞

[3] Japan’s low virus deaths reflect high ‘cultural standards,’ says Taro Aso. The Japan Times

[4] 【2018-2019の投票結果】. NOASEPS

[5] Editorial: How long will Finance Minister Aso continue to make outrageous remarks?. The Mainichi

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