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Opposition co-leader draws fire for saying Kumamoto quakes 'timely'

Osaka Ishin no Kai co-leader Toranosuke Katayama. (Mainichi)

Toranosuke Katayama, a co-leader of the Osaka Ishin no Kai (Initiatives from Osaka) party, has come under fire after remarking that the quake disaster in Kumamoto Prefecture was a "very timely earthquake."

His comment came during an Osaka Ishin no Kai meeting in the Diet building on April 19.

"(The quake) will certainly affect the political situation, over whether a double election (for both chambers of the Diet) will be called and whether the consumption tax will be raised (in April 2017 as scheduled)," he said.

He retracted the remarks immediately afterwards.

Later that day, Katayama released a statement saying, "I meant to say that the earthquake coincided with a critical political moment. My choice of words was inappropriate."

Observers say his comment may spark a backlash from people affected by the disaster, which has left more than 40 people dead and several others missing as of April 20.

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