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Japanese parliament sees red over minister’s scarf worn in chamber

Japanese parliament sees red over minister’s scarf worn in chamber
A red scarf-wearing member of Japan’s upper house has caused a scandal in Japan’s parliament. A session was delayed for 20 minutes as Diet members debated the definition of a ‘scarf’, forbidden along with hats and coats in certain areas of the building.

Justice Minister Midori Matsushima turned up to the so-called ‘Chamber of Wisdom’ as Japan’s upper house is often called, wearing the red garment. However, the former journalist fell foul of a decades-old rule, which doesn’t allow politicians to wear coats, hats or scarves in deliberation chambers and committee rooms, AFP reported.

Opposition politicians leapt on Matsushima’s choice of attire and demanded that a debate take place to establish a definitive ruling of what a scarf is.

The minister - a staunch conservative - said that she had done nothing wrong and was “surprised” that her choice of garment had caused such a fuss.

"A scarf is simply part of my outfit," she told reporters. "It's an ordinary fashion item for an ordinary woman."

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front C) leads female cabinet ministers as they prepare for a photo session at his official residence in Tokyo September 3, 2014. (Reuters/Yuya Shino)

She added that there were different distinctions between scarves that needed to be taken into account. She cited the example of an ‘erimaki’, which is adorned in order to keep someone warm, while there also scarves that can be worn as accessories.

"They are different from scarves for women's fashion,” Matsushima added, according to AFP.

Matsushima is not the only Japanese parliamentarian who likes to wear red scarves. Her fellow colleague in the upper house, Antonio Inoki, who used to be a wrestler is famous for wearing a red scarf. However he has always taken it off when entering the chamber so as not to flout the rules.

Remarkable as it seems, the issue has not yet been resolved, with a spokesman for Japan’s upper house saying, "The committee could not reach a conclusion and agreed to continue discussions," adding that the next executive committee meeting was set for Tuesday.