The Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has taken swift action against a member of his staff who made discriminatory comments about the LGBTQ community. Economy and trade official, Masayoshi Arai, who joined Kishida’s team as a secretary in October, stated that he would not want to live next to same-sex couples and that the allowance of same-sex marriage would cause people to flee Japan.
The remarks, which were reported by local media, sparked outrage from the Prime Minister. Kishida issued a statement on Saturday, saying that Arai’s comments were “outrageous and completely incompatible with the administration’s policies”. The Prime Minister also confirmed that he had dismissed Arai, who later apologized for his “misleading” remarks.
The incident is a source of embarrassment for Kishida, who is set to host the leaders of the G7 countries in May. The majority of the G7 nations allow marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples, while Japan remains conservatively ruled by the Liberal Democratic party. The recent public support for the Prime Minister has halved to approximately 30% due to a series of scandals and resignations by senior officials, including Mio Sugita, an internal affairs and communications vice-minister, who resigned in December over controversial comments about LGBTQ people and Japan’s Indigenous Ainu people.