Photo/IllutrationKanji Kato (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A ruling party lawmaker reluctantly retracted his remarks about telling young women to have at least three children or else the taxes paid by other people’s offspring will cover their care in nursing homes.

Kanji Kato, 72, made the comments on May 10 at a meeting of the Hosoda faction of the Liberal Democratic Party.

“I always tell brides and grooms at wedding parties that I would like them to have three or more children,” he said. “We need three or more children from those people to make up for couples who cannot bear a child no matter what they do.”

He also implied that it would be unfair if women with no children were cared for at nursing homes funded by other people’s taxes.

After the faction meeting, reporters asked Kato if he intended to amend or retract his “advice” to women.

Kato was unapologetic.

“Improving the birthrate is the most important issue facing our nation. That is all,” he said.

However, a source said a senior LDP member demanded that Kato “retract the remarks and apologize before causing any uproar.”

On the evening of the same day, Kato said in a statement: “I apologize if my words gave the wrong impression. Although I never intended to discriminate against women, I retract the remarks I made because they could have been interpreted as such.”

Kato has been elected to the Lower House from a Nagasaki constituency three times since 2012. He has also served as chairman of the Nagasaki prefectural assembly.