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Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi apologized to the public Friday for recently appointed Parliamentary Vice Defense Minister Shingo Nishimura’s remarks on rape and nuclear armament, which have led to Nishimura’s resignation.

Government sources said Obuchi will again apologize to the nation for Nishimura’s remarks in his policy speech to the Diet on Oct. 29, when an extraordinary Diet session opens.

“It was a very regrettable incident, and I apologize to the public,” Obuchi said in an interview with the media at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

Nishimura, a member of the Liberal Party, resigned Wednesday from his post amid outcry over remarks calling on Japan to consider arming itself with nuclear weapons.

In an interview published in the latest edition of the magazine Weekly Playboy, Nishimura also made an analogy to laws against rape to show why he thinks nuclear weapons are an effective deterrent.

“If there were no punishment for rape, we would all be rapists,” Nishimura told the magazine. “We do not become rapists because there is the deterrent of punishment.

“If neighboring countries are aiming their medium-range ballistic missiles at major Japanese cities, Japan has reached the point where it needs to discuss in the Diet what we should do.”

According to the government sources, Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki told Obuchi that the public would think it “bizarre for a member of the government to be uttering such things” and that the prime minister must issue a clear apology before the Diet as well.

Female lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party had met Aoki on Thursday to ask why Obuchi had not spoken out about Nishimura’s rape remarks.

During Friday’s interview, Obuchi said the remarks were “extremely inappropriate,” even if they were intended as a metaphor.

“I will not evade my responsibility as the person who appointed him (Nishimura),” Obuchi said. He said his Cabinet will do its best to work with Taiichiro Nishikawa, the new defense parliamentary vice minister.

Obuchi also stressed that Japan will not change its “three nonnuclear principles” of not producing, possessing or allowing the entry of nuclear weapons.

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