TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s parliamentary session opened Monday with an unusual apology from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his heckling.
Abe apologized for yelling at an opposition lawmaker during her question last week about defense legislation.
“I apologize once again over my remark, and I will humbly deal with the situation from now on,” Abe said at the lower house committee on the peace and security legislation.
Abe intervened last week when Democratic Party of Japan member Kiyomi Tsujimoto was taking several minutes to ask if the legislation could increase the risk of casualties for Japanese defense troops.
“Come on, just ask a question!” Abe heckled from his seat, temporarily stalling the session as Tsujimoto paused, stared at him and protested.
Tsujimoto later wrote in her blog that Abe’s heckling was not just an insult to her but underscored his lack of understanding about the basic principles of democracy.
Abe said her long question was taking away from his time to respond, then reluctantly apologized, but faced further criticism from both opposition and ruling parties.
On Monday, the committee chairman Yasukazu Hamada urged Abe and other Cabinet ministers to “refrain from making unnecessary remarks,” particularly as the public is paying close attention to the discussion.
Last Wednesday, the day before his outburst, Abe slammed heckling from opposition lawmakers who alleged his responses were too long and redundant.
“Please stop obstructing the discussion. Didn’t you learn that at school?” Abe said.
Just days before his visit to the U.S. in late April, Abe said he looked forward to speaking before the U.S. Congress where he did not expect to be heckled.
This story has been corrected to show that Abe visited the United States in April.