TOKYO • Japan's gaffe-prone Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso yesterday retracted comments in which he cited Adolf Hitler, but insisted he did not mean to praise the Nazi leader.
Mr Aso used Hitler - responsible for the death of millions of Jews and others during World War II - in a bizarre reference about the importance of leaving a legacy in politics.
"What is important are results," the veteran politician told a meeting of his faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday.
"Even if the motive is correct, Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good."
Mr Aso, who is also finance minister, retracted the remark but said he did not mean to defend Hitler's motives.
"If you take my comment in its entirety, it is clear that my perception about Hitler is extremely negative and that Hitler was wrong in his motivation," he said in a statement issued by the finance ministry.
"It was inappropriate that I cited Hitler as an example and I would like to retract that."
It was not the first time Mr Aso and other Japanese politicians have made casual references to Hitler and the Nazis.
In 2013, Mr Aso drew international condemnation after he said Tokyo should learn from Nazi Germany when it comes to constitutional reform.
Mr Aso - whose previous comments include criticising women who do not have children and saying old people should "hurry up and die" to save healthcare costs - later retracted the remarks but refused to quit.