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Finance Minister Aso warned over jeering in Diet

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said on May 16 that he gave a verbal warning to Finance Minister Taro Aso over his jeering of an opposition legislator during a recent Diet session.

During a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on May 14, Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, jeered at Yuichiro Tamaki, co-leader of the newly formed opposition Democratic Party for the People, saying, "This guy just wants to speak," as Tamaki was asking questions about the denuclearization of North Korea. The jeering resulted in a temporary halt to deliberations.

At a press conference on May 16, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nishimura said he gave a "verbal warning" to Aso -- not directly but by way of Deputy Vice Finance Minister Koji Yano, a subordinate of Aso.

According to Nishimura, Hiroshi Moriyama, the Diet affairs chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, reported that there was a remark that could be construed as jeering during the Diet committee session. In response, Nishimura on May 15 asked Yano to tell Aso that he should be careful about his statements. Yano later reported to Nishimura that he conveyed the message to Aso.

(Japanese original by Kazumasa Kawabe, Political News Department)

Meanwhile, in a related development, Aso made yet another gaffe during a speech in Tokyo on May 16 about the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to a Kyodo News report.

"I hope that awful-looking airplane (of North Korea) will safely fly to Singapore (where the summit will take place), because it failing on the way would be no laughing matter," Aso said during the speech, in an apparent reference to a plane to be boarded by Kim, according to Kyodo.

Aso's remark came a day after he was warned by the prime minister's office.

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