The seven—make that eight—most ridiculous statements of Taro Aso, Japan’s debonair gaffe machine

Making an Aso of himself.
Making an Aso of himself.
Image: REUTERS/Toru Hanai
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Update: In the latest gaffe by Japanese deputy prime minister Taro Aso, he advocated using the Nazi party’s tactics to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution during a speech to an ultra-nationalist group: “I don’t want to see this done in the midst of an uproar … Doing it quietly, just as in one day the Weimar constitution changed to the Nazi constitution, without anyone realizing it, why don’t we learn from that sort of tactic?”

After Jewish groups and Japan’s neighbors expressed outrage at the remarks, Aso did not apologize, but said, “It is very unfortunate and regrettable that my comment regarding the Nazi regime was misinterpreted … I would like to retract the remark about the Nazi regime.”

Aso is renowned for his nationalism, his snappy dress and, above all, for putting his foot in his mouth. Here’s a selection of some other notorious Aso-isms:

On the 2008 financial crisis: “Many people fell prey to the dubious products, or so-called subprime loans. Managers of Japanese banks hardly understood English. That’s why they didn’t buy.”

On the expense of elderly care: “The problem won’t be solved unless you let them hurry up and die.”

On parenting: “I respect the kindergarten director who said that the people who should be disciplined are the mothers rather than the children.”

On economic development: “[Japan should aspire to be] where the richest Jews would want to live.”

On the opposing party: “Nazis.”

On the success of Japanese investors in the Middle East, versus that of Americans: ”The Japanese were trusted because we have never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns…. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blonde hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”

On its colonial legacy in Taiwan: “Thanks to the significant improvement in educational standards and literacy [during colonization], Taiwan is now a country with a very high education level and keeps up with the current era.”

And finally: ”I have made no gaffes in the past half year, even as newspapers said the Aso administration’s…no, the Abe administration’s biggest problem is Taro Aso’s gaffes” (paywall).

This post was initially published on July 9, and will be updated with further ridiculous statements as events warrant.