Japan's deputy prime minister is backpedaling hard after suggesting Adolf Hitler had the right motives for murdering millions of people. During an address to members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Yokohama on Tuesday, Taro Aso used Hitler as an example of how politicians are judged by their achievements rather than their motivations, reports Newsweek. "Hitler, who killed millions of people, is no good even if his motive was right," Aso stated. That comment drew swift rebuke from not only one of Aso's political opponents—who called it "extremely shameful," per Kyodo News—but also the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which expressed its "distress and disappointment," per the Japan Times.
"These words damage Japan's reputation at the very time when all Americans want to show their solidarity with Japan," the head of the Jewish human-rights organization said, citing North Korea's recent missile launch. Adding to the uproar was the fact that this was not the first such gaffe for Aso. Back in 2013, he was forced to apologize after suggesting Japan could learn from the process in which Nazis secretly changed Germany's constitution ahead of World War II. (There was also this.) Aso retracted his comment Wednesday, saying it "was misinterpreted and caused misunderstanding." He added, "It is clear from my overall remarks that I regard Hitler in extremely negative terms, and it's clear that his motives were also wrong."