Taro Aso is the hawish Foreign Minister of Japan as of late 2005 and early 2006. He suffers from a propensity to offend the Chinese.
麻生太郎 or Asō Tarō was born on September 20, 1940 in Iizuka, Fukuoka. Aso is a virtual prince of the Japanese political class. His father, Takakichi Aso, was chairman of the Aso Cement Company and a close associate of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. His mother was the daughter of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. He is also a great-great-grandson of Toshimichi Okubo, and his wife is the third daughter of Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki.
Aso is a graduate of the Faculty of Politics and Economics at Gakushuin University. He ran his father's corporation for several years before entering politics. He was also a member of the Japanese shooting team at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Aso was elected as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives in October 1979, and has since been re-elected eight times. In 1988 he became Parliamentary Vice Minister for Education. He joined the cabinet of Junichiro Koizumi in 2003 as Minister of Internal Affairs, Posts and Communications. Then on October 31, 2005, he became Foreign Affairs Minister. Some have speculated that he was tapped for the position because of his membership in the Kono Group, an LDP faction led by Yohei Kono.
Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe are candidates to replace Koizumi after the prime minister's term expires. Both pols are conservative on foreign policy issues and have taken confrontational stances toward North Korea and China.
Ruling Class BigotEdit
- During a meeting of the Kono Group in 2001, Aso drew criticism when he said that "those burakumin can't become prime minister," a statement directed at Hiromu Nonaka, a burakumin member of the Diet. Aso's office later attempted to clarify the statements by saying that they were misunderstood.
- In May of 2003, while attending a festival at the University of Tokyo, Aso remarked that Koreans wanted to change their names to Japanese names during colonial rule, and that Japan helped in the diffusion of the Hangul writing system.
- On October 15, 2005, he praised Japan for having "one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race," and stated that it was the only such country in the world. News Report News Report
- On December 22, 2005 Taro Aso stated that the Chinese military build-up was becoming a "considerable threat." Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang responded that the comments were irresponsible. Does the Japanese government regret supporting the Republican War in Iraq now that U.S. military forces are tied down in that quagmire? Source: Norimitsu Onishi. "Foreign Minister Says Japan Sees Military Threat In China Buildup." The New York Times. December 22, 2005. p. A10.
- On January 28, [[2006, he called for the emperor to visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine. backtracking
- In a speech on February 4, 2006 Aso reportedly stated that Taiwan has a high educational level thanks to Japanese improvement in literacy and education standards during the 1895-1945 colonial era. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kong Quan commented that, "We are shocked by and express our strong indignation over the Japanese foreign minister's remark of overtly glorifying invasion history." Joe McDonald "China Criticizes Japanese Comment." Associated Press. February 6, 2006. Chinese account for the overwhelming majority of the casualties caused of Japanese aggression in the period between 1937 and 1945 that include the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War.
2004 Honey Trap Revealed in 2006Edit
- On February 18, 2006 Aso reported that a Japanese consular official had commited suicide in May 2004 after being blackmailed by Chinese intelligence into transferring secret codes. Source: n.a. "Japanese Official Committed Suicide After Being Blackmailed by Chinese Agents." Malaysia Star. February 18, 2006. Obvious Question: Why delay reporting the event for so long?
- On March 9, 2006, Aso upset the Chinese government by describing Taiwan as a country, saying that, "Its democracy is considerably matured and liberal economics is deeply ingrained, so it is a law-abiding country. In various ways it is a country that shares a sense of values with Japan." The Chinese government responded with strongly worded protest. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that, "China strongly protests this crude interference in its internal affairs." Source: Kozo Mizoguchi "Japan Official Calls Taiwan a 'Country'". Associated Press. March 9, 2006.
- On February 4, 2006, Aso is reported to have said that, "our predecessors did a good thing" regarding compulsory education implemented during Japan's colonization of Taiwan. Kyodo News Service Report