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Ex-state minister calls Africa 'that black thing,' denies racial discrimination

Kozo Yamamoto (Mainichi)

Former state minister Kozo Yamamoto called Africa "that black thing" during a Nov. 23 seminar, while speaking about years of development work on the continent by a fellow Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker.

Yamamoto, former minister in charge of regional revitalization, addressed the audience at a political economy seminar organized by House of Representatives member Asahiko Mihara in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, and praised Mihara's accomplishments. Yamamoto then said, "One thing I don't understand about him (Mihara) is his affection for Africa. I feel like, why does he like that black thing so much?"

Mihara serves as acting chairman of a legislators' group promoting friendly relations between Japan and the African Union, and had just visited Africa in July.

Yamamoto told reporters in Fukuoka on Nov. 25 that it was "an impulsive remark that came out" because he was thinking about how Africa used to be called the "Dark Continent." He added, "I had no intention of discriminating against anyone, but I would like to retract my comment."

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