Mongolia lodged a diplomatic protest with Japan on Friday after a monthly kid's comic magazine included a picture of national hero Genghis Khan with a crude sketch of male genitalia across his forehead.

The comic's publisher, Shogakukan Inc., apologized Friday evening in a meeting with Dambadarjaa Batjargal, the charge d'affaires at Mongolia's embassy in Tokyo.

In an earlier protest lodged with the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the embassy said the cartoon "lacks respect for the Mongolian people."

"We deeply apologize for causing offense to all those who revere Genghis Khan," Shogakukan said in a statement on its website.

The founder of the Mongol Empire is a symbol of national identity in Mongolia, all the more so in recent years because of the suppression it experienced during its communist era before the 1990s.

The March edition of the magazine went on sale in Japan on Feb. 15.