Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dismissed one of his secretaries on Saturday over homophobic comments that the premier called “outrageous”.
Kishida said the remarks by Masayoshi Arai — in which he said he “doesn’t even want to look at” married same-sex couples — were “outrageous” and “incompatible” with an inclusive society the government is aiming for.
“I made the decision to relieve him of his position as secretary,” Kishida told reporters.
On Friday, Arai said he “wouldn’t like it if they lived next door” and that people would “abandon the country if we allow same-sex marriage”, according to public broadcaster NHK.
The 55-year-old apologised later, saying his remarks were not appropriate, even if they were his personal opinion.
The dismissal is a further blow to Kishida’s government, which has faced plummeting approval ratings since last year.
Kishida has lost four ministers in just three months over allegations of financial irregularities or links to the controversial Unification Church.
Japan is the only nation in the Group of Seven industrialised countries not to recognise same-sex marriage, although recent media polls show a majority support such unions.
This week, the prime minister told parliament that same-sex marriage would “affect society” and therefore lawmakers needed to be “extremely careful in considering the matter”.
More than a dozen couples have filed lawsuits in district courts across Japan arguing the ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitution.
In November, a Tokyo court said the country’s failure to legally protect same-sex partners created an “unconstitutional situation” — while ruling that the constitution’s definition of marriage was legal.