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Aide to Japan's prime minister says he 'hates' to see LGBT couples

Secretary retracts remarks, says they aren't Kishida's views

Japan is the only Group of Seven country that does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A secretary to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Masayoshi Arai, said Friday night he does "not want to live next door" to an LGBT couple and that he would "hate to see them," but quickly retracted the discriminatory remarks after they were reported by the media.

Arai said he "apologizes for having used expressions that may cause misunderstanding" in withdrawing the remarks. "I feel sorry for [causing any issues for] the prime minister, as he does not think like that," the secretary also said.

"I caused trouble [to the prime minister] due to my own opinions," he said.

Before the withdrawal, Arai also said, "There are quite a few people who say they would abandon this country" if same-sex marriage is introduced in Japan, a step that would "change the way society is."

Kishida has struck a cautious tone about legally recognizing same-sex marriage.

"We need to be extremely careful in considering the matter as it could affect the structure of family life in Japan," the premier said at a parliamentary session in late January, although several lawsuits have been filed across the nation by same-sex couples.

Japan remains the only Group of Seven country that does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, as many members of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, led by Kishida, have opposed the concept.

The Sapporo District Court ruled in March 2021 that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but the Osaka District Court ruled it constitutional in June 2022.

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