Japan’s new trade chief has record of misogyny

Sept. 11 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed an anti-Seoul politician known for his misogynistic views as trade minister during a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday.

Isshu Sugawara, 57, will be taking over Tokyo’s economic affairs as Hiroshige Seko steps down amid a prolonged trade dispute between South Korea and Japan, South Korean news service Newsis reported.

Sugawara previously served in the prefectural assembly of Tokyo and is known for his right-wing views. He has opposed outlawing hate speech, a recurring problem in Japan where rallies supporting attacks against ethnic Koreans have become more visible in recent years.

The newly appointed economic chief is active on social media and has made statements online of “strong support” for Japan’s trade restrictions targeting South Korea’s tech industry.

Sugawara had previously said in a blog post the trade restrictions limiting Japanese exports of fluorinated polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and photo-resists are justified because South Korea’s demand for compensation for wartime forced labor is “unreasonable.”

Surviving Korean forced laborers, recruited during World War II, have claimed they were exploited under harsh conditions and often did not receive pay.

Sugawara has also said Seoul sold the chemicals to North Korea, although it is unclear whether he provided supporting evidence.

In addition to opposing the outlawing of hate speech, Sugiwara has attacked women’s rights.

The Japanese politician has argued in favor of the loss of privileges for Japanese women in the royal family after marriage. He has also opposed a woman’s right to keep her maiden name after marriage.

Sugawara has reportedly said a woman over 25 “is no longer a woman,” and that a woman is also past her prime after giving birth.

Those remarks came to light when Sugawara was reportedly dating a 27-year-old woman in 2016, according to reports.

The trade dispute between the two countries is being brought before the World Trade Organization, Hankyoreh reported Wednesday.

Seoul is claiming in a lawsuit Japan is enacting “discriminatory measures” against Korea, according to the report.