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Finance minister rapped for comparing Diet session extension to 'injury time'

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso listens to questions from reporters at the prime minister's office on June 22, 2018, after a regular Cabinet meeting. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Opposition parties have accused Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso of "profaning soccer" after he compared the extension of the current Diet session to injury time and warned legislators not to invite public criticism during the extended period.

In a speech at a meeting of his intraparty faction on June 21, Aso touched on Japan's victory over Colombia on June 19 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

"I thought the game would end 2-1, but there was five minutes of injury time. It felt like a long time," he said. "It's also the case with the extended Diet session. I'd like to ask legislators to prevent a nasty loss during this injury time."

Under soccer rules, a period when a game is suspended to treat injured players and other reasons can be added to the regular length of the game.

Opposition parties reacted sharply to his remarks and are trying to block the passage of key bills -- a work-style reform bill and a bill to open the way for the establishment of "integrated resorts" that include casinos -- in the Diet session's remaining weeks. It is unknown whether the bills can be enacted by the July 22 end of the session.

Aso has been under fire for a spate of gaffes, including comments on the Finance Ministry's doctoring of documents relating to the heavily discounted sale of state land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, and sexual harassment allegations against a former top ministry bureaucrat.

(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Tanaka, Political News Department)

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