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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mind your words, Kawamura tells Aso, Obama

Staff writer

No national leader, it seems, can avoid putting his foot in his mouth from time to time.

No exception to this "rule," Prime Minister Taro Aso has not helped his popularity with his numerous slips of the tongue, which have been fodder for headlines since he took charge six months ago. But he's far from alone. Even the normally eloquent U.S. President Barack Obama is not immune to faux pas.

In an appearance on the talk show "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" last week, Obama jokingly referred to his unskillful performance on the bowling lanes as "like the Special Olympics or something."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters Monday afternoon that heads of state should be careful when making statements, especially when drawing parallels.

Leaders "need to see to it that (their words) don't hurt other people," Kawamura said. "This is extremely difficult when giving examples, but they need to be careful."

Aso has issued a number of apologies for his many gaffes. Most recently, he opined that stockbrokers have "shady" reputations in rural areas and "are not trusted." This comment came in the presence of presidents of financial institution and securities companies in the course of a government panel on how to overcome the economic crisis.

"The prime minister represents all of the people in Japan," Kawamura said. "It is necessary for the prime minister to keep in mind that some things may be fine for some people while it could be negative for others, so he must give thorough consideration and weigh his words before speaking."

Aso has accused doctors of lacking common sense and disparaged elderly people for not taking proper care of their health.

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The Japan Times

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