Asia

Japan's Shinzo Abe rebukes MPs after Obama 'slave' remark

This file picture taken on 22 January 2016 shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivering his policy speech at a plenary session of the House of Representatives in Tokyo Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Abe told lawmakers to have "self-discipline" following the furore

Japan's PM Shinzo Abe issued a stern rebuke after one of his lawmakers sparked a row by saying US President Barack Obama has "the blood of slaves".

Kazuya Maruyama from Mr Abe's ruling party made the remark on Wednesday during a parliamentary session.

Mr Abe said that as elected representatives of the people MPs should have "self-discipline".

Mr Obama is the son of a white mother and a black Kenyan father who went to the US as a student.

Mr Maruyama made the comment while discussing the evolution of the US into a world superpower.

"Now in the United States, a black man serves as president. With the blood of black people. This means slaves, to be clear."

He added later: "It was unthinkable at the founding of the country that a black man, a slave could become president. That's how dynamically America has evolved."

Mr Maruyama later apologised when approached by reporters asking about his comments.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Maruyama is from Mr Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party

But opposition lawmakers complained and on Thursday submitted a resolution calling for him to resign.

On Friday, Mr Abe fielded questions from the opposition about Mr Maruyama and answered: "We should be more conscious that we have been elected by the people. Self-discipline is required as our remarks have influence."

The furore is just the latest to involve lawmakers from Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in recent weeks.

Last week Kensuke Miyazaki quit his post after admitting to having an affair as his wife was due to give birth. The MP had earlier shot to prominence by becoming the first to request paternity leave.

In January, economy minister Akira Amari resigned amid allegations that he had received bribes from a construction company, which he denied.

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