Kishida slammed advisor for discriminatory remarks against LGBTQ community

Prime Minister of Japan. Fumio Kishida – Elizabeth Fraser/U.S. Army/Plane / DPA

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has dismissed with immediate effect a head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry who disparaged the LGBTQ community before a group of journalists by saying he would not want to «have a same-sex couple living next door» or «even look them in the face.»

The advisor, Masayoshi Arai, made these statements after the conservative Prime Minister expressed this week some reservations about a possible legalization of same-sex marriages in the country, now subject to a controversial decision issued last November by a Tokyo court that decided to maintain the illegalization while recognizing it as a violation of human rights.

Arai told reporters — in an off-the-record conversation, he said later — that legalizing same-sex marriages «would change the essence of society» and «people would leave this country,» according to the official Kyodo news agency.

In response, the Japanese Prime Minister announced Saturday the immediate dismissal of Arai, whose statements «are inexcusable and completely contradict the government’s policy,» according to the official note collected by the agency. Sadanori Ito, head of the Ministry of Trade, has been appointed as the replacement for the dismissed advisor.

The Prime Minister is thus trying to resolve the latest crisis in his government after a series of resignations of senior Cabinet members due to scandals and controversies of various kinds that have left his popularity at rock bottom.

In addition, the issue of same-sex marriage in Japan is a particularly sensitive topic ahead of the next G7 meeting in May: Japan is the only country among the world’s seven leading economies that bans same-sex marriages.