File photo of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, second left, Regional Issues Minister Shigeru Ishiba, left, and Finance Minister Taro Aso, third left. (Photo: AP
Tokyo: Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso has reluctantly apologised for saying childless people are to blame for the country’s rising social security costs and its aging and declining population.
“If it made some people feel uncomfortable, I apologise,” Aso said on Tuesday after drawing complaints over a comment he made during the weekend at a seminar in Fukuoka, his constituency in southwestern Japan.
The gaffe-prone Aso, a 78-year-old former prime minister, is among conservative lawmakers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government who have at times blamed the elderly or childless for long-term demographic trends. “There are lots of strange people who say the elderly people are to blame, but that is wrong. The problem is those who don’t have children,” he told the audience.
The comment was nearly the same as one he made in 2014 that also drew criticism