Finance minister forced to retract comment after criticism that he appeared to be defending Hitlers motives for the genocide of millions of Jews

Japans finance minister, Taro Aso, has courted fresh controversy after expressing admiration for the Nazis, describing Adolf Hitler as having the right motives.

Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good even if his motive was right, Aso told a meeting of his faction of the governing Liberal Democratic party, according to Jiji Press.

Aso retracted the comments on Wednesday after criticism that he appeared to be defending Hitlers motives for the genocide of millions of Jews during the second world war.

It is clear from my overall remarks that I regard Hitler in extremely negative terms, and its clear that his motives were also wrong, Aso said in a statement, adding that he did not intend to defend Hitler, but to stress the importance of politicians achieving results.

It was inappropriate that I cited Hitler as an example and I would like to retract that.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors anti-semitic activities, voiced distress and disappointment at the comments.

This is just the latest of a troubling list of misstatements and are downright dangerous, the centres head, rabbi Abraham Cooper, said in a statement.

It is not the first time the gaffe-prone Aso has made controversial remarks about the Nazis.

In 2013, he came under pressure to resign after suggesting that Japan should follow the Nazis example when considering how to change its constitution.

Criticising the lack of support among older people for revising Japans postwar pacifist constitution, Aso said it could learn from how the Nazi party changed Germanys constitution by stealth before the second world war.

Since revising Japans constitution could trigger protests, Aso suggested doing it quietly, just as in one day the Weimar constitution changed to the Nazi constitution without anyone realising it. Why dont we learn from that sort of tactic?

He later retracted the comments but refused to resign.

His comments came soon after another public figure in Japan attracted criticism for voicing admiration for the Nazis.

Earlier this week, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said it had called for an investigation into Katsuya Takasu, a well-known plastic surgeon and TV celebrity, who highlighted the Nazis contribution to science and medicine, and appeared to deny the Holocaust.

The centre asked the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery to expel Takasu, whose posts, according to Cooper, violate all norms of decency and reveal a person who is a racist anti-Semite and outright lover of Nazism.

The academy said it took the allegations against Takasu seriously and was investigating Takasus comments.

Takasu posted the tweets in 2015 but they recently generated a huge response on social media after a Japanese blogger translated them into English.

After saying he had learned how great Nazism was while studying at Kiel University in Germany, Takasu wrote: There is no doubt that the Jews were persecuted. But we only know it from hearsay and all of it is based on information from the Allies.

In June, Yutaka Harada, a member of the board of Japans central bank praised Hitlers wonderful fiscal and monetary policies, but said they had enabled him to go on and do horrible things.

The use of Nazi symbolism has landed Japanese celebrities in trouble. Keyakizaka46, a popular girl band set up by an executive board member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, was criticised last year for giving a Halloween concert in costumes modelled on Nazi Waffen-SS uniforms.

In 2011, the all-male pop group Kishidan appeared on primetime television wearing Nazi-style uniforms, triggering a protest from Jewish rights campaigners.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/30/japan-minister-tara-aso-praises-hitler-right-motives