Japan PM’s aide fired for making ‘outrageous’ remarks on LGBT+ couples

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has fired one of his top government aides for making homophobic remarks.

Masayoshi Arai, an executive secretary to the premier, was dismissed over the weekend after telling reporters in an off-the-record briefing that he did "not want to live next door" to an LGBTQ+ couple and "hate even to see them".

He reportedly warned that legalising same-sex marriage in Japan would lead to citizens abandoning the country. Mr Arai shortly retracted the comments after they were made public by the media.

The elite executive later apologised, stating that his remarks were not appropriate and not representative of the premier's views.

The prime minister said the remarks were "outrageous" and "completely out of line with the Cabinet's approach to respecting diversity and creating an inclusive society".

Mr Kishida had asked lawmakers last week to exercise "extreme caution" when deliberating over same-sex unions because of its potential impact on the family structure.

Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven (G7) countries that has failed to legalise same-sex marriage. Although Japan as a country is touted to be largely conservative and heteronormative, recent polling suggests most people in the nation are accepting of same-sex marriages.

In a survey published by NHK in July 2021, two months before Kishida became prime minister, 57 per cent of 1,508 respondents said they supported the legal recognition of gay unions.

A Tokyo court in November last year upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, but also said a lack of legal protection for same-sex families violated their human rights. Because same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, they can't inherit each other's assets and are denied parental rights to each other's children.

Mr Kishida on Monday apologised for his aide's derogatory comments while reiterating the government's policy of “respecting diversity and creating an inclusive society.”

“The recent comments made by the aide are completely contrary to government policy, and we have made the decision to promptly relieve him of his duties as secretary to the prime minister,” Mr Kishida told reporters, according to Bloomberg.

“I regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen among the public regarding the government’s policy direction, and I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by it.”