Top Japanese politician says Americans 'simple-minded'
The former secretary general of Japan's ruling party, Ichiro Ozawa, said Wednesday he values US democracy but believes Americans are "simple-minded," local media reported.
"Why is the United States so simple? I like Americans, but they are somewhat like single-cell (organisms)," Ozawa told a political seminar in Tokyo, the Nikkei business daily, Kyodo News agency and other media reported.
Ozawa, the former secretary general of the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), who stepped down earlier this year amid political funding scandals, also argued that the United Sates is a great democracy.
"A black president was born in the United States where having a black president seemed impossible," he reportedly said.
"There are rumours that a black (leader) will surely be assassinated, but they chose Obama, who emphasised change."
The 68-year-old veteran politician was also quoted as saying: "I don't think Americans are smart... but I appreciate very much that the choices made by the people during a crisis are put into practice."
Ozawa also said "I don't like British people" but praised their democracy and their discipline, citing the 1957 World War II film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" in which British prisoners of war marched in orderly ranks.
Ozawa, an old-school backroom fixer sometimes dubbed the "Shadow Shogun", stepped down from the number-two post of the DPJ in June as Yukio Hatoyama resigned as prime minister amid sagging approval ratings.
The former finance minister Naoto Kan, who distanced himself from Ozawa, replaced Hatoyama as premier but is now struggling to stay in office after his party suffered losses in upper house elections in July.
The DPJ is set to hold a leadership election on September 14, and political pundits are closely watching whether Ozawa, a powerful party faction leader, will run for the party leadership against Kan.
© 2010 AFP