Embattled Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Friday offered her first public apology for a remark asking voters to support a Liberal Democratic Party candidate in Sunday's Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election as head of the ministry and the Self-Defense Forces.

Inada, however, insisted that she apologized because her remark "could cause misunderstanding" and implied that the public and the media did not understand her "real intention."

"I didn't mean at all to take advantage of my position for election campaigns," Inada said at a regular news conference at the ministry. "I withdraw my remark and apologize for it because it could cause misunderstanding."