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Senior Cabinet official retracts 'backwoods pro wrestling' remark

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda on Nov. 24 apologized for comparing opposition parties' behavior in the Diet to "backwoods pro wrestling" and retracted the remark during a House of Representatives committee meeting amid an opposition backlash.

Hagiuda told reporters on Nov. 24, "I am to blame if my behavior has adversely affected debate schedule at the Diet," after he retracted his Nov. 23 remark, in which he said that the opposition parties were acting like they are in "backwoods pro wrestling" and called the behavior "farcical." The opposition protested Hagiuda's remark, which resulted in a delay for setting a schedule for Diet deliberations from Nov. 25 on.

The largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) and three other opposition parties held a meeting among their Diet affairs committee chairpersons on Nov. 24 to discuss how to handle Hagiuda's earlier remark. Social Democratic Party (SDP) Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kantoku Teruya suggested the opposition take a tough position, saying, "I would like to give him a dropkick like in pro wrestling."

DP's Kazunori Yamanoi, who calls himself a pro wrestling fan, slammed Hagiuda's comment, saying that it was "offensive for those in the countryside and pro wrestling."

Meanwhile, SDP leader Tadatomo Yoshida told a news conference that continuing Diet deliberations to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is a "farce" after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would pull the U.S. out of the agreement.

"I hope he (Hagiuda) asks House of Councillors member Mr. Antonio Inoki (a former pro wrestler) if pro wrestling is a farce," Yoshida said.

DP President Renho grilled Hagiuda at an upper house special committee on the TPP prior to the lower house Rules and Administration Committee meeting, saying, "Do you think Diet deliberation is a farce and the opposition is here as a disturbance?" In response, Hagiuda told the committee, "I don't think the level of the opposition is that (low)."

Government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members have made a series of gaffes during the current Diet session, with farm minister Yuji Yamamoto talking about railroading the TPP bills and later calling the remark "a joke."

Yoshio Urushibara, chairman of the Central Secretariat of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, called Hagiuda's comment "imprudent."

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