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Japan’s Leader to Dismiss Aide Over Comments About LGBT People

TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister

Fumio Kishida

said Saturday he would dismiss an aide who was quoted in local media as saying he didn’t like looking at LGBT people and wouldn’t want to live next to them.

The aide, Masayoshi Arai, made the comments Friday, according to the Mainichi newspaper and Kyodo News. He was discussing a debate in Parliament in which Mr. Kishida expressed caution about legalizing same-sex marriage in Japan.

Mr. Kishida called Mr. Arai’s remarks unacceptable and said he would replace the aide, a career civil servant in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry who moved to the prime minister’s office in 2021.

“The Kishida government aims to build a sustainable, inclusive society that respects diversity,” Mr. Kishida said.

In his initial remarks Friday, Mr. Arai said everyone among the prime minister’s senior aides opposed same-sex marriage, according to Mainichi. He said he personally didn’t like looking at LGBT people, wouldn’t want to live next door to them and believed that some people would leave Japan in disgust if the country permitted same-sex marriage, Mainichi reported.

Later Friday night, Mr. Arai apologized for the remarks, retracted them and said he had been speaking only for himself, Mainichi said. Mr. Arai couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

The issue of same-sex marriage generally hasn’t received as much attention in Japan as in the U.S. and Western Europe, but in recent years some local governments have begun to recognize same-sex couples and some lawmakers have called for national legislation to permit same-sex marriage. A 2021 poll in the Asahi newspaper found 65% of respondents supported such a change, with 22% opposed.

In his parliamentary testimony Wednesday, Mr. Kishida avoided stating his personal stance on same-sex marriage and said the issue couldn’t be resolved quickly because it involved family values and a change in society.

Write to Peter Landers at Peter.Landers@wsj.com

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