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Japanese PM Candidate Ozawa: “I don’t think Americans are very smart,” “I don’t like British people”

Ichiro Ozawa, the backroom dealer and longtime fixture of Japanese politics who announced today that he will challenge Prime Minister Naoto Kan as leader of the ruling Democratic Party, and therefore also as prime minister, will have some explaining to do to Japan’s allies if he reaches the top spot. Here’s what he had to ...

JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images

Ichiro Ozawa, the backroom dealer and longtime fixture of Japanese politics who announced today that he will challenge Prime Minister Naoto Kan as leader of the ruling Democratic Party, and therefore also as prime minister, will have some explaining to do to Japan's allies if he reaches the top spot. Here's what he had to say about Americans at a political seminar in Tokyo on Wednesday:

"I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular," the former Democratic Party leader said. "When I talk with Americans, I often wonder why they are so simple-minded."[...]

Ozawa, who advocates a U.S.-style two-party political system for Japan — which currently has a coalition government — praised Americans for electing President Barack Obama.

Ichiro Ozawa, the backroom dealer and longtime fixture of Japanese politics who announced today that he will challenge Prime Minister Naoto Kan as leader of the ruling Democratic Party, and therefore also as prime minister, will have some explaining to do to Japan’s allies if he reaches the top spot. Here’s what he had to say about Americans at a political seminar in Tokyo on Wednesday:

"I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular," the former Democratic Party leader said. "When I talk with Americans, I often wonder why they are so simple-minded."[…]

Ozawa, who advocates a U.S.-style two-party political system for Japan — which currently has a coalition government — praised Americans for electing President Barack Obama.

"I don’t think Americans are very smart, but I give extremely high credit for democracy and choices by its people," he said. "They chose a black president for the first time in U.S. history," adding that he thought once that would never be possible.

I’m not sure Obama will appreciate Ozawa’s praise for the political choice of a nation of single-celled organisms. The British didn’t get off easy either: 

Mr Ozawa, the former secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Democratic party said the way prisoners of war marched in orderly ranks in “The Bridge on the River Kwai” demonstrated the best qualities of the British.

But he added that he had an aversion to the British. He said: “I don’t like British people”

"Bridge on the River Kwai," if you’re not familiar with it, is the story of a group of British POWs trying to maintain their dignity while subjected to forced labor and occasional torture by their Japanese captors. Not quite sure Ozawa got the message of that film. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Japan

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