Extract from The Asahi
December 2 2022
TOKYO – Mio Sugita, parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs and communications who has a history of uttering derogatory comments, said she will apologize to sexual and other minorities she may have offended.
She also told a Dec. 2 session of the Upper House Budget Committee that she retracts some, but not all, of the remarks in question that she made before she assumed her current post.
Sugita said she was not certain if her words were actually discriminatory when she was asked.
“I will carefully examine my past remarks, including whether they amounted to discrimination,” she said.
Sugita, 55, said her boss, internal affairs minister Takeaki Matsumoto, told her to withdraw some of the past comments and offer an apology to those offended.
At the Budget Committee meeting, Daisuke Tenbata, an Upper House member of the opposition party Reiwa Shinsengumi, said Sugita’s comments reflect a bygone era of a totalitarian government that sought to ostracize people with disabilities and homosexuals as a worthless existence in society.
Tenbata is disabled and uses a wheelchair.
Sugita was given her current post at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications when the Cabinet was reshuffled in August.
The ministry has oversight on measures to prevent defamation and libel on the internet.
Opposition parties, as well as many people in the public, are simply aghast that someone with Sugita’s history could be appointed to such a position.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sugita is accountable for anything she has said previously.
But he reiterated that he will retain her at the post, saying he has placed the right people in the right jobs.
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