Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 16:18 UK

Japan PM in gaffe on poor couples

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minster Taro Aso campaigining ahead of this week's general election
Taro Aso's Liberal Democratic Party is heading for defeat, say pollsters

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has advised young people who are poor in his country not to get married.

He made the remark while out and about in Tokyo campaigning for Sunday's general election.

Opinion polls show his Liberal Democratic Party is heading for defeat, partly due to concerns over unemployment levels.

Job security is very much at the core of this election, with many angry about the rise of short-term job contracts.

Mr Aso was asked whether poverty was making people marry later, contributing to Japan's low birth rate.

His response was: ''Young people had better not get married with little money."

He added it was difficult for him to see how someone without pay could be seen as an object of respect.

It was an unfortunate remark because a lack of job security, along with the large number of people on short-term job contracts is of prime concern to many in this election.

The rise in use of short-term contracts is due in part to labour reforms introduced by Mr Aso's Liberal Democratic Party.

The prime minister is famous for his gaffes. He once upset Japan's doctors by saying they lacked common sense.

On another occasion, apparently thinking he was addressing a teacher's group, rather than a gathering of parents, he said it was mothers and fathers who needed scolding instead of their children.

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