Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso has made a comment that could be interpreted as defending Adolf Hitler's motive behind the genocide of Jews, even though he later retracted it. Why he keeps making these gaffes is beyond anyone's imagination.
This is not something he can get away with by just "retracting" his comment because it "caused misunderstanding." Why was it necessary in the first place to bring up Hitler, who was behind the genocide by Nazi Germany?
The remarks were made during a seminar for Aso's own faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He said, "At least, motives (behind becoming a politician) can go unquestioned. The important thing is the results. Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good even if his motive was right."
While what he meant by Hitler's "motive" is unclear, the comment was made within the context of advising his faction members on politicians' awareness to serve the public. Following criticism, Aso retracted the remarks and released a statement, making excuses such that it was different from his intention and that he mentioned Hitler as "an example of bad politicians."
Aso is asking too much, however, if he wants the public to interpret the true intention of his remarks as he explained.
The gaffe-prone Aso also said in 2013 that Japan should learn from Nazi Germany in revising the Constitution, but later retracted that comment. The latest remarks are just proof that he has not learned anything from the 2013 gaffe.
The 2013 comment sparked an international outcry, with a Jewish human rights group releasing a statement condemning Aso's remarks, and the Japanese government was forced to clean up his mess. One cannot help but suspect that, somewhere in his heart, Aso wants to praise the Nazis and that might be why he repeats these remarks.
Furthermore, the comment that motives for becoming politicians can go unquestioned is also problematic. It goes without saying that a person's motives for aspiring to become a politician are important, not to mention the recent "deterioration of qualities" of politicians.
There is an ongoing conflict in the United States between white supremacists and opposition groups, further deepening issues on racism in the country. The man who allegedly rammed a car into counter-white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one person dead and numerous others injured, idolized Hitler. It's still fresh in our minds that President Donald Trump came under fierce criticism after blaming "both sides" in the incident.
It is highly doubtful that Aso was aware of this international background when he made his latest gaffe.
Arguments supporting the Nazis can also be seen and heard in Japan. If the attitude of Aso and his cronies are nurturing this trend in the country, they bear grave responsibility.