The head of a leading Japanese opposition party has apologized for calling Latin American workers “dregs,” a party official said.
Saburo Tsukamoto, secretary-general of the Democratic Socialist Party, visited the Nicaraguan Embassy in Tokyo today to apologize, according to party spokesman Eisei Itoh.
At a political seminar last Wednesday, Tsukamoto said that “only the dregs remain” in Latin America because “the good workers are enticed to the United States.” He said this was a cause of social unrest in the region.
His remark was carried in most major Japanese newspapers the next day.
Diplomats representing Latin American nations in Japan lodged a complaint Saturday with the party, calling for an apology from Tsukamoto.
"(We) have read with great surprise and indignation in the main Japanese newspapers, your remarks . . . describing the Latin American workers as ‘dregs,’ ” the complaint said.
“Your . . . remarks are inconsistent with the wishes of the peoples and governments of both Japan and the Latin American and Caribbean countries,” it added.
The protest was signed by Nicaraguan Ambassador Jorge C. Huezo, dean of the diplomatic missions of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Tokyo.
In July, Michio Watanabe, policy chief of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, suggested that American blacks frequently use credit cards but care little about paying their bills.
Two years ago, former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone angered American minorities by saying the intelligence level in Japan was higher than that in the United States because of a considerable number of “blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans over there.”