TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide drew criticism after failing to read out a key part of the prepared text of his speech at an annual peace memorial ceremony in the western city of Hiroshima on Friday.
The missing part included the sentence that, as the only country that has experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war, Japan will steadily accumulate efforts to realize a world without nuclear weapons.
Afterwards, the prime minister continued the speech, despite an unnatural gap in the flow of his words.
“I apologize for leaving out part of the speech,” Suga told a press conference after attending the Hiroshima peace ceremony for the first time since he took office last September.
Explaining the failure, he said, “The papers stuck together, due to glue.”
“I can’t believe he skipped the part,” Japanese Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii said on Twitter. “He lacked respect for the atomic bomb victims.”
“It was a problem even before we evaluate (the speech),” said a senior member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. “The prime minister’s mind may have been far away.”
A government source said the prime minister was not well-prepared for the speech, criticizing him for underestimating the importance of sending a political message.
In defense of Suga, meanwhile, a veteran lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said, “Everybody makes a mistake.”
During last year’s extraordinary parliamentary session, Suga made a series of reading errors, prompting his aides to advise him to get rest.
Suga is “quite exhausted” now, an LDP executive said. “He should take a whole day off, as he has had no holiday for a long time.”