Japan's deputy transport minister to quit over controversial comment

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-05 11:04:12|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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TOKYO, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Ichiro Tsukada, Japan's State Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, will step down from his post, he indicated Friday, for comments made that he upgraded a road construction project as a favor.

The project to upgrade the road in southwestern Japan, according to a remark made by Tsukada, was carried out as a favor to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Tsukada said the road project could link Abe's constituency of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, the constituency of Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.

The road has been dubbed the "Abe-Aso Road."

Tsukada said that the project to upgrade the road was as an unrequested favor to Abe and Aso, as the two senior politicians cannot talk about matters relating to their own constituencies.

"I raised the level of the research to one directly managed by the government. I took the intentions of Abe and Aso into consideration," Tsukada said in a speech in Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on April 1.

Tsukada suggested that he had "guessed" what Abe and Aso were thinking and acted based on that.

Abe, for his part, said that Tsukada's remarks do not represent the facts.

Tsukada has since retracted the comment.

"As my series of remarks were not true, I retract them and apologize," Tsukada said in a statement.

He also apologized at a Lower House Cabinet Committee meeting on April 3 for causing "big trouble."

Opposition parties have, of late, been requesting Tsukada to step down from his position.

The fiscal 2019 budget includes the cost of a survey for the "Abe-Aso Road" projects to be carried out directly by the national government.

Tsukada has essentially admitted to carrying out "pork-barrel" politics.

Executives of six opposition parties or parliamentary groups agreed at a meeting in the Diet on April 3 to demand Tsukada to resign as a vice land minister.