Official withdraws jobless remark

Tetsushi Sakamoto, parliamentary secretary for internal affairs and communications, on Tuesday apologized for and retracted a remark he made the previous day in which he cast doubt on whether unemployed people at a temporary tent village in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park had the desire to work hard.

“The idea that crossed my mind was that even though the employment situation may be seriously bad, some of them [who had come to the tent village] might not have a serious desire to work. I made the remark without fully grasping the situation,” said Sakamoto, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker in his second term in the House of Representatives. “I disturbed and upset many people. I’d like to retract the remark and deeply apologize to those concerned.”

But he ruled out the possibility of resigning as parliamentary secretary, as had been demanded by the opposition parties.