Taro Aso, a former prime minister and the current vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, on Friday retracted his sexist remarks regarding the appearance of the country's top diplomat.

In a speech on Sunday, Aso, a heavyweight of the LDP headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, described Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa as an "obasan," which loosely translates as old lady and sometimes carries a negative connotation. At the same time, he praised her diplomatic skills and performance.

"I intended to introduce minister Kamikawa's accomplishments" but "there were some inappropriate expressions such as mentioning her appearance," the 83-year-old House of Representatives member said in a statement, adding he has taken criticism seriously and withdrawn his comments.