A Japanese lawmaker was forced to apologise on 17 February after making racist remarks about US President Barack Obama. Kazuya Maruyama, a member of the Diet whose part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said the American president was a descendant of slaves.
"In the United States, a black man became president. To be blunt, he has the blood of black people who were slaves," Maruyama said during a session of the House of Councillors commission on the Constitution, according to NTV. The head of the party's judicial affairs division added: "When the United States was founded, no one expected a black, or a slave, to become a president. It's a country that has transformed dynamically."
According to WWLP, Maruyama also asked what issues would come up if Japan became the 51st state of the US, a key ally of the East Asia nation.
The former lawyer turned lawmaker later apologised at a press conference held after the session. "I'm truly sorry I made remarks that could be misunderstood," he said, according to JapanToday. During the press conference, Maruyama added that the wanted to "correct or retract" his remarks from the meeting's minutes.
The lawmaker's comments were not only offensive but wrong. Obama, the first African American to be US president, is the son of a Kenyan exchange student to the US and a white woman from Kansas.
JapanToday noted that Maruyama's comments are bound to draw wide-spread criticisms from opposition parties. Prime Minister Abe has been confronted with a series of scandals involving party members, including resignations by his economic policy minister over political funds and a Diet member following an extramarital affair.