TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio has fired Masayoshi Arai as secretary to him over his discriminatory remarks about LGBT people and same-sex marriage, the government said Saturday.
It is unusual for a secretary to the prime minister to be dismissed over a gaffe. This is expected to deal a blow to the Kishida administration already struggling with low public approval ratings.
The gaffe underscored a lack of awareness about human rights among top government officials, experts said.
Arai told reporters off the record Friday that he hates to see LGBT people and would hate to see such people live next to him. He also said that if Japan recognizes same-sex marriage, people will abandon the country.
Speaking to reporters during a trip to Sakai, Fukui Prefecture, Saturday, Kishida said, “I take (Arai’s remarks) very seriously and decided to dismiss him.” He said he feels responsibility for appointing the secretary.
Arai’s remarks “run counter to our cabinet’s policy of respecting diversity and creating an inclusive society and are totally unacceptable,” Kishida said. “Discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation are not condoned,” he said.
Kazue Muta, professor emeritus of social science at Osaka University, said Arai’s remarks are “discriminatory and unacceptable.”
The Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, a group of sexual minorities and their supporters in the country, issued a statement criticizing Arai’s remarks as anachronistic. “Japan’s international position will be questioned,” the group said.
The secretary’s remarks came after Kishida expressed a cautious stance about recognizing same-sex marriage earlier this week. That is “a matter that will change family values, people’s values and society,” Kishida told a parliamentary committee meeting Wednesday.
Arai, who is from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, has served as secretary to the prime minister in charge of media relations since Kishida took office in October 2021. Arai was replaced by Sadanori Ito, also from the ministry.