The newly-appointed head of Japanese state broadcaster NHK, Katsuto Momii, on Monday apologized after his incendiary remarks about wartime sex slaves caused an international outcry.
"It was wrong for me to express my personal opinion," Momii said. "I acted indiscreetly because it was my first [press conference taking the position]. It was due to my lack of discretion."
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga voiced fulsome support.
Momii "made the comments in an individual capacity. There's no problem with his comments now that he retracted his statement," Suga said. "I expect him to perform his duties in accordance with the Broadcasting Act."
Momii had said sex slaves like the Asian women drafted into servitude by the Imperial Army in World War II "could be found in any nation that was at war." He cited Japan and France as examples and then wondered aloud why there are licensed brothels in Holland, suggesting there is no difference between sex slaves and tax-paying modern-day prostitutes.
The remarks were grist to the mill of the abrasive co-leader of the extremist Japan Restoration Party, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who had made similar remarks last year.
Hashimoto said there was nothing wrong with what Momii said and his views are "exactly the same as my own."