Japanese legislator Hodaka Maruyama is being urged by his peers to resign over controversial remarks he allegedly made while heavily intoxicated.
Opposition lawmaker Maruyama sparked controversy after suggesting that the Japanese government should go to war with Russia to regain control of disputed islands, reports Mainichi.
Last month, Maruyama joined a visa-free exchange program between Japan and Russia in which he visited one of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.
Maruyama, who represents Osaka Prefecture in Congress, asked the leader of a group of former Japanese residents, “Do you think there is any alternative to war [to recover the islands]?”
Many viewed Maruyama’s comments to be counterproductive as Japan and Russia are currently in talks about the long-standing territorial dispute over the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils. The dispute has prevented them from signing a peace treaty in the aftermath of World War II. Japan has maintained that the former Soviet Union illegally seized the islands in 1945 after Tokyo’s surrender, while Russia claims to have a legitimate right to them.
Authorities have confirmed that on May 11, Muyama visited a Russian family’s home on Kunashiri Island where he ended up drinking over 10 glasses of cognac and made the statement about war.
When returning to his lodging, he reportedly then commented “Are those places with neon signs bars? … Are there women?… “I want to go out to grope breasts.”
His statements prompted others to stop him from leaving his lodging, but he then said, “I will not be arrested because I am immune from arrest.”
After the government verified the incident, lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties in Japan submitted a resolution to parliament, pressing the 35-year-old lawmaker to immediately decide whether or not to resign due to his remarks and behavior which they have found to be problematic.
According to the resolution, his remarks counter the war-renouncing constitution and his behavior hindered smooth implementation of the exchange program and brought significant damage to the national interest, South China Morning Post reported.
Those who filed the motion are seeking unanimous approval when the lower house adopts it on Thursday. However, since such resolution has no power to actually kick Maruyama out of his legislative post, it will still be up to him to decide whether or not he quits the House of Representatives.
Maruyama, who has since stated that he does not intend to resign, has been expelled from the Japan Innovation Party, which concluded that he is no longer qualified “as a member of parliament.”
“It was extremely regrettable as [his remarks] deeply hurt the feelings of former island residents,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted during a plenary session of the House of Councillors.
Abe further noted that Maruyama’s statements deviate “from the government’s policy that aims to seek resolution with diplomatic negotiations.” Abe, however, declined to comment over the calls for Maruyama’s resignation.
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