Japanese politician asked to step down for Obama 'slave' comment

Kazuya Maruyama has been asked to resign after he suggested the U.S. president was a "black slave."
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 18, 2016 at 2:38 PM
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TOKYO, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A Japanese lawmaker is under fire for suggesting U.S. President Barack Obama is a descendant of slaves.

Japanese politician Kazuya Maruyama, a member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, has since apologized but opposition parties are calling for him to step down, USA Today reported.

Maruyama's remarks, which critics have called racist, were made during a hearing on proposals regarding Japan's Constitution.

"In America, a black man became president. I mean, he's in a bloodline of black people who were slaves," the politician said. "People in the country's founding era would have never thought a black slave would become president."

The comments were made while Maruyama was pointing out "dynamic reforms" in the United States.

He later apologized for his off-the-cuff and inaccurate comments and said that he was "sorry that I made a remark that could lead to misunderstanding."

But the incident is marring his reputation.

CNN reported some observers have begun to compare him to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who made comments about Muslims and Mexican immigrants that many deem racist.

The remarks are also not exceptional, according to Kyle Cleveland, an associate professor at Temple University in Tokyo, but point to a bigger problem in Japan regarding racial sensitivity.

"This isn't just one particularly racially outrageous thing that he said about Obama, but it represents a certain kind of nationalism that this generation of politician holds," Cleveland said.

The Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party and People's Life Party have submitted a resolution calling for Maruyama's resignation.

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