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Aso rules out resigning as minister, lawmaker over Nazi remark.

TOKYO, Aug. 2 Kyodo

Japan's Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on Friday ruled out stepping down as a Cabinet member or lawmaker over a remark citing Nazi Germany as an example for Japan to follow in revising its pacifist Constitution.

Brushing aside calls from some opposition Diet members, Aso said he had "no intention to resign" at a press conference held a day after he retracted his comment, which triggered criticism both at home and abroad.

Aso, who served as prime minister for a year from September 2008 and doubles as finance minister, said he believes it is now understood internationally that he did not intend to justify the Nazi regime with his comment.

But while reiterating that he considers it "regrettable" that the comment caused misunderstanding, he said he will not apologize for the remark.

Aso came under fire both at home and abroad after he said in a speech Monday in Tokyo, "Germany's Weimar Constitution was changed before anyone knew. It was changed before anyone else noticed. Why don't we learn from that method?"

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization, lashed out at Aso's comment earlier this week. "What 'techniques' from the Nazis' governance are worth learning -- how to stealthily cripple democracy?" its associate dean asked in a statement.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young said at a news conference Tuesday it is "obvious" that Aso's remark "hurt" many people, urging him to consider the sentiments of people in neighboring nations that "suffered damage" from Japanese invasion.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference Friday that he will "make efforts to prevent (Aso's comment) from becoming a diplomatic or political issue."

At home, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan said it will press for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take responsibility for appointing Aso as a Cabinet member.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a separate press conference earlier in the day that Aso's remark was "misunderstood" and that there is "no room" for discussion of it.

"It is not something that can be deliberated in parliament," Suga, the government's top spokesman, said.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Aug 5, 2013
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