Cabinet minister draws fire for saying gov't won't listen to opposition

A member of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's cabinet admitted Tuesday to making a "misleading remark" after drawing fire for saying during campaigning for the upcoming upper house election that the government will not listen to the opposition.
Daishiro Yamagiwa, minister in charge of economic revitalization, stopped short of retracting his remark ahead of Sunday's House of Councillors election in which the ruling coalition led by Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party is projected to easily retain its majority.
"I was told to be careful not to cause any misunderstanding among the people, and I would like to speak more carefully," Yamagiwa said, apparently referring to a warning from Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno the day before.
Opposition parties criticized Yamagiwa after he said in a stump speech in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, on Sunday, "The government will not listen to what the opposition says at all. If you want to make your lives better, you have to elect politicians of the Liberal Democratic Party or the ruling coalition as Diet members."
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara told a press conference Monday that the government will listen to lawmakers regardless of the parties they belong to, as the Kishida administration's basic stance is to carefully listen to people.
"We will not ignore the opposition," Kihara said.
Yamagiwa's remark drew a backlash from opposition parties, with Seiji Osaka, acting leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan posting Sunday on Twitter that the minister "does not understand democracy."
"Listening only to the voices of the ruling parties is dictatorship by intimidation," Osaka said.
Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, also told reporters Monday that Yamagiwa's remark was "arrogant."

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