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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's central bank issued a rare apology on Friday over a board member's praise for Adolf Hitler's economic policies.
Yutaka Harada, a member of the board of the Bank of Japan, told a seminar on Thursday Hitler's economic policies had been "appropriate" and "wonderful" but had enabled the Nazi dictator to do "horrible" things to the world.
"The Bank of Japan views with regret the fact that the remarks of one of its Board Members have become a source of misunderstanding, and will see to it that such incident will not repeat itself," the central bank told Reuters on Friday.
Harada, a member of the bank's nine-member board, told the seminar Western policymakers helped bring Hitler to power by being slow to apply John Maynard Keynes' proposals to fight the Great Depression.
Hitler became German chancellor in 1933.
Harada said he had only been trying to express the importance of conducting appropriate economic policies at an early stage.
"I had no intention at all to justify Hitler's economic policies," the bank quoted Harada as saying.
"Indeed, I have clearly pointed out in my remarks that tragedy did result from the policy steps Hitler had taken. That being said, I want to offer my sincere apologies for any misunderstanding my choice of words may have caused," he said.
Public figures in Japan, which was part of the World War Two Axis powers with Germany and Italy, have sometimes caused controversy with favorable comments about some aspects of the Nazi regime. At the same time, however, Holocaust-denial and neo-Nazi movements are essentially unknown in Japan.
Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso drew criticism from a U.S.-based Jewish rights group over comments he made in 2013, but were later retracted, that were interpreted as praise for Germany's Nazi regime and Hitler's rise to power.
Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Robert Birsel