Date
25 September 2017
Akihiro Suzuki bows to apologize to fellow legislator Ayaka Shiomura for a sexist remark. Photo: Reuters
Akihiro Suzuki bows to apologize to fellow legislator Ayaka Shiomura for a sexist remark. Photo: Reuters

Japanese can light fireworks, too

First he denied saying it. Next, he tried to paper it over with policyspeak. But finally, after five days, Japanese legislator Akihiro Suzuki came forward to own up to a sexist slur and apologize for it.

Now, other similarly minded lawmakers may be coming out of the woodwork. Their party leader is counting on their honor and decency to get them to step forward. Nobody knows who they are.

“If that turns out to be difficult, we will urge other parties at the metropolitan assembly to conduct an investigation to identify who made those remarks,” Minoru Morozumi, secretary general of Your Party was quoted as saying by Japan Times.

Honor and decency in a society that gave birth to bushido, the ancient warrior code of honesty and “honor unto death”, might have moved Suzuki to “apologize from the bottom of my heart”.

Suzuki’s sexist taunt was directed at Ayaka Shiomura while she was raising questions about policies related to Japan’s declining birth rate.

“Why don’t you get married soon?” Suzuki yelled. Jeers followed from other lawmakers: “Can’t you give birth to a baby?” 

On Monday, Suzuki denied making the comment. Then he tried to explain himself away by restating his stance on women’s rights but finally acknowledged the remark was inconsiderate.

Unlike in other chambers where legislators have been known to come to blows or tear each other’s hair, Japan’s parliament values decorum.

It’s not every day you see such display of personal sniping and insult, let alone fisticuffs, which meant the incident was fodder for the local and foreign media.

Who says the Japanese can’t light fireworks?

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RA

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