A Cabinet minister has received a dressing-down and apologized for labeling museum curators a cancer that must be rooted out, but says he will not resign.

The outburst by Kozo Yamamoto, the state minister in charge of regional revitalization, came on April 16 as he was complaining that curators tend not to promote cultural properties with tourist potential in mind.

“My remark was not appropriate. I wish to withdraw it and apologize,” Yamamoto told reporters in Tokyo on April 17.

However, he dismissed the idea of stepping down as a show of contrition, saying, "I want to do my job to the best of my ability.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke to Yamamoto by phone to reprimand him.

Yamamoto gave a lecture at a seminar for regional revitalization hosted by the Shiga prefectural government at a hotel in Otsu on April 16.

Afterward, he was asked by Yuji Fujii, mayor of Nagahama, also in the prefecture, for advice on tourism promotion targeting foreign travelers.

In response, Yamamoto began to talk about tourism built around cultural properties and stated that ways to guide visitors and utilize events are often insufficient.

“The biggest cancer is curators," he blurted out. "They don’t have ordinary tourism in mind whatsoever. We have to eliminate them.”

After the seminar, Yamamoto elaborated on his remarks.

“Curators always oppose new ideas on grounds that they concern cultural properties. If we continue to follow their way of thinking, Japan cannot develop as a country that is supported by tourism.

"I overdid when I said, ‘We have to eliminate them.’ But they should understand that they have to develop a mind-set to communicate with tourists.”

(Yotaro Okamoto in Otsu contributed to this article.)