Kiichi Inoue, state minister in charge of disaster prevention, on Thursday officially retracted remarks made last week that suggested that a fatal stabbing by an 11-year-old schoolgirl was an indication of how assertive women had become.

Speaking during the day’s session of the House of Councilors special committee on Iraq reconstruction and contingency legislation, Inoue said: “It is regrettable that I invited misunderstanding. I would like to retract those remarks.”

On June 4, Inoue caused a furor over his comments in connection with the murder of 12-year-old Satomi Mitarai by a classmate at Okubo Elementary School in the city of Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, earlier that week.

“I guess it is an indication of an increase in the number of women brimming with energy,” he told a regular news conference when asked to comment on the incident. “This can be said of all societies, can’t it?”

Inoue had repeatedly rejected calls to retract the remarks, saying that what he had really tried to say had not been understood.

However, the minister’s adamance on the issue led Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Tsuyoshi Sato to refuse to continue interpellation at Thursday’s committee session until he withdrew them.

Inoue then agreed to retract the controversial comments after the matter was discussed by committee Chairman Tatsuo Shimizu and committee directors.

Classroom makeover

SASEBO, Nagasaki Pref. (Kyodo) The classroom at an elementary school here in which an 11-year-old girl murdered a classmate will be renovated, school sources said Thursday.

Okubo Elementary School may completely renew the room in which 12-year-old Satomi Mitarai was killed, seeking to help students cope with the psychological shock of the incident, the sources said.