Abe Apologizes For Cabinet Ministers' Remarks

Abe apologizes for Cabinet ministers' remarks

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apologized to his governing coalition partner for controversial remarks made by two members of his Cabinet.

Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda said on a TV program last week that students should compete for university enrollment within their means.

Hagiuda was referring to the introduction of private English tests for university entrance exams starting in 2021. His remarks followed a suggestion that students from affluent families may be able to take practice tests.

Defense Minister Taro Kono said at his fundraising party on Monday that he is known as a rain-bringer, and that Japan had already been hit by three typhoons since he assumed his post.

Opposition lawmakers criticized the remark as inconsiderate amid a large number of deaths due to the typhoons.

Abe apologized to the leader of his coalition partner Komeito, Natsuo Yamaguchi, on Tuesday for the ministers' remarks. Abe said he has always encouraged every minister to speak and act with due care, and pledged to address the matter.

Yamaguchi later told reporters that lawmakers must refrain from remarks that invite criticism, and have the humility to quickly retract what they say. He added that the ruling parties have a duty to retain public trust and ensure smooth operation of the Diet.