Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita apologized Tuesday over errors to data related to foreign technical interns and how they were presented. However he denied claims by opposition lawmakers that the mistakes were intentional and aimed at facilitating ongoing debate over a controversial bill that will introduce more blue-collar foreign workers to the country from April.

Yamashita also said he has set up a project team within the ministry to examine the operations of the Technical Intern Training Program and recommend improvements to any problem areas identified.

"The mistakes in compiling data, based on interviews (by security officers) of interns who fled their jobs, that came to light recently shouldn't have happened and I express my sincere apologies," he told a news conference.