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Tokyo Leader’s Anti-Foreigner Remarks Assailed by Japanese

From Associated Press

Top Japanese officials criticized Tokyo’s governor Tuesday for saying foreigners could be expected to riot in the event of an earthquake and for using a derogatory World War II-era term for other Asians.

Defense Agency Director Tsutomu Kawara dismissed Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s statement, which urged the nation’s defense forces to prepare to step in if police need help in suppressing possible violence.

“I don’t believe that foreigners would riot,” Kawara said.

According to reports, Ishihara told Japanese military personnel Sunday that “sankokujin and other foreigners” had committed “atrocious crimes” in the past and “could be expected to riot in the event of a disastrous earthquake.”

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Sankokujin is a derogatory term used before and during World War II, usually to refer to people from Korea and Taiwan living in Japan.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono said Tuesday that it was inappropriate for a public official to use such language.

“There may be people who could get hurt by that word,” Kono said at a news conference.

Japanese opposition party politicians also criticized Ishihara, who was elected governor last year as an independent.

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“It’s an absurd comment and must not be forgiven. I feel fierce indignation,” the Kyodo News Service quoted Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, as saying.

The 67-year-old Ishihara is known for his blunt style and nationalistic views.

He coauthored the 1989 bestseller “The Japan That Can Say No,” which called for Japan to be more assertive toward the United States.


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