Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has apologized for discriminatory comments made by one of his aides last week, reiterating the government’s policy of "respecting diversity and creating an inclusive society.”

"The recent comments made by the aide are completely contrary to government policy, and we have made the decision to promptly relieve him of his duties as Secretary to the Prime Minister,” Kishida told reporters Monday. "I regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen among the public regarding the government’s policy direction, and I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by it.”

Masayoshi Arai, a secretary to the prime minister, was dismissed from his post over the weekend for telling reporters in an off-the-record briefing that he didn’t want to look at same-sex couples or have them live next door to him. He added that some people would abandon the country if same-sex marriage were to be introduced.