After drawing fire from the opposition camp, a key adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday retracted his remarks downplaying the need for the national security bills currently being debated in the Upper House to be consistent with the Constitution.

Summoned before an Upper House special committee as an unsworn witness, Yosuke Isozaki apologized for his remarks last week in which he said: “What we need to consider is whether the measures are necessary to protect Japan. Legal stability does not matter.”

Isozaki, however, brushed off calls to step down as an adviser to Abe, saying he will fulfill his responsibilities by concentrating on his job as an aide to the prime minister.

“I’m sorry for causing great trouble to the ruling and opposition parties and the public due to my careless comments,” Isozaki told the committee.

“I do recognize that legal stability is important for the security legislation,” he said, adding that his remarks “led to a grave misunderstanding.”

While the Abe administration had apparently hoped to quell the latest controversy by summoning Isozaki to the Diet, the opposition camp appears set to pursue the issue by targeting Abe for appointing him as a special adviser.

Some members of Komeito, the Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner, have also criticized Isozaki’s remarks, saying that he should “make a decision himself” about his future — remarks seen as a tacit push for his resignation.

Abe also apologized Monday for Isozaki’s remarks at an LDP meeting with Komeito.

“I’m sorry for causing trouble to the ruling coalition. Legal stability is an important pillar for the government. We would like to be more careful,” Abe told the meeting.

The latest blow to the administration came after Isozaki made the comments during a July 26 speech in the city of Oita. The remarks, meant to downplay claims that the bills violate the Constitution, sparked criticism from the opposition and even among the ruling bloc, with some demanding Isozaki step down.

Following Isozaki’s apology, Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Yukio Edano told reporters that the party will continue to demand his resignation as well as pursue Abe for not dismissing him outright.

“Isozaki obviously needs to resign. But at the same time, I believe Abe must be held responsible for appointing him,” Edano said, adding that the way the prime minister has dealt with the issue displays his lack of awareness over the seriousness of the remarks.

Information from Kyodo added

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