The Sankei Shimbun daily said it had received a letter of protest from Ambassador to Japan Mohau N Pheko over the editorial by well-known author Ayako Sono who said it was better for people of different races to live separately.
Pheko was quoted as saying Sono’s column tolerated and glorified apartheid and that it was a shameful and extravagant proposal.
The ambassador called segregation policy a crime against humanity that cannot be justified in the 21st century, according to Sankei.
Sono wrote in the paper’s Wednesday edition, “Since I learned the situation in South Africa 20 to 30 years ago, I’ve come to believe whites, Asians and blacks should live separately.”
The author wrote that it was necessary for Japan to accept immigrants, especially in order to care for the growing elderly population, on condition they live separately from the Japanese.
Sono told Sankei on Saturday that she did not mean to promote apartheid in Japan.
On Friday, the Tokyo-based non-governmental Africa Japan Forum also protested against Sono and Sankei, demanding a retraction and an apology to the people of South Africa.
Takeshi Kobayashi, a Sankei executive, said the column expressed Sono’s personal views, not those of the paper’s management.
He said the newspaper’s position has been that “racial or all other forms of discrimination, including apartheid, are intolerable”.