A Japanese lawmaker is being criticized for saying President Barack Obama was a descendant of black slaves and therefore would have been an unthinkable choice in America’s early history.
Kazuya Maruyama, a lawyer-turned-lawmaker in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party, apologized hours after making the remark at a parliamentary constitutional panel, saying it was misleading.
Maruyama said Wednesday: “Today, America has a black person as President. A person who inherits black people’s blood. Frankly speaking, they were slaves.”
He said it would have been unthinkable in early American history and that is how dynamic American can transform.
Opposition lawmakers Thursday demanded Maruyama resign over the comment deemed insulting to Obama and possibly hurting Japan-U.S. ties.
The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment.
Maruyama’s case served as the latest headache for Abe, who has seen a score of embarrassing scandals involving ruling party members.
Akira Amari, a key ally who served as the chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, left his ministerial post last month over a graft allegation published in a magazine.
And just last week, junior ruling party parliamentarian Kensuke Miyazaki, who had wanted to become the first national lawmaker to take paternity leave, announced he was resigning his seat after an affair with a bikini model while his wife, also a lawmaker, was pregnant.