The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed “distress and disappointment” at a comment made on Tuesday by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, as reported by the Kyodo news agency. Aso said, speaking to a fellow member of his Liberal Democratic Party, “I don’t question your motives, but the results are important. [Adolf] Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good, even if his motives were right.”

Wiesenthal’s chief, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said in response, “This is just the latest of a troubling list of ‘misstatements’ made by Japanese officials, which are downright dangerous.

“These words damage Japan’s reputation at the very time when all Americans want to show their solidarity with Japan, our sister democracy and ally, following the missile launch from Kim Jong Un’s North Korea,” Cooper noted.

On Wednesday, Aso retracted, stating: “It is clear from my overall remarks that I regard Hitler in extremely negative terms, and it’s clear that his motives were also wrong.” He explained that all he wanted to say was that results count, not intent. Aso also acknowledged, “It was inappropriate that I cited Hitler as an example and I would like to retract that.”

Aso has a history of making discriminatory remarks. In 2001, he stated that Hiromu Nonaka, a member of Japan’s underclass, the burakumin, should not be allowed to serve as head of state, because “burakumin can’t become prime minister.”

In 2005, during the opening ceremony of the Kyushu National Museum which displays how different Asian cultures have influenced Japanese cultural heritage, Aso praised Japan for having “one culture, one civilization, one language, and one ethnic group,” the only such country in the world.

In 2001, as economics minister, he was quoted as saying he wanted to make Japan a country where “rich Jews” would like to live. And in 2009 he declared that “to work is good. It’s completely different thinking from the Old Testament.”

Aso has one more Hitler gaffe in his account: in 2013 his comment about Hitler’s rise to power was interpreted as praising the Nazi regime. Speaking about Japan’s revising its constitution, Aso pointed out that the constitution of Weimar Germany had been changed by the Nazis on the sly, and asked, “Why don’t we learn from that technique?”

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Source: Israel in the News