Japan’s Kishida under fire for ‘poor’ hiring decisions after aide makes anti-LGBT remarks
- PM Fumio Kishida has lost yet another person in his inner circle, prompting questions over his ability to judge good talent
- While he swiftly sacked Masayoshi Arai, LGBTQ activists say the move is hollow as politicians take their cue from the prime minister, who opposes marriage equality
Kishida on Saturday replaced executive secretary Masayoshi Arai, after he gave local media his personal stance on legalising same-sex marriages. “I would hate it if [a same-sex couple] lived next to me. I would hate to even see them,” 55-year-old Arai was quoted as saying on Friday.
“The resignations and questions that are being asked would appear to speak for themselves when it comes to Kishida’s appointments,” said Hiromi Murakami, a professor of political science at the Tokyo campus of Temple University. “It seems clear that he did not take adequate care when he was selecting people to be in his cabinet or to act as his advisers.”
While Arai’s comments were not fatal to Kishida’s government, Murakami said they damaged his standing when he was already struggling with public support rates in the low 30 per cent range over policies and personnel.
“This will not bring the government down, of course, but it makes his decision-making look poor,” said Murakami. “And that will add new pressures on the prime minister at a time when he was probably hoping to draw a line under these personnel problems.”
Meanwhile, even though Kishida acted quickly after the comments were reported, anger from the public and activist groups continued.
“We also feel that the comment comes on the heels of Kishida himself stating his opposition to marriage equality,” he said. “Leadership matters and if a leader permits himself to make such comments, then his team may follow.”
Kishida told lawmakers last week that “extreme caution” was needed in deliberations on same-sex marriage as it could have an impact on family structure.
Dmitrenko said Japan was “a very tolerant society”, but that public debates on gender equality would be harmed “when people in positions of power come out with such hatred that targets a community that is already the target of discrimination”.
The Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation said in a statement that Arai’s comments were contrary to public perceptions of sexual minorities.
“We also point out that such anachronistic perceptions are the cause of the high rate of attempted suicide among sexual minorities,” the alliance said.