Toshihiro Nikai, the powerful secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, on Oct. 15 grudgingly retracted his remark saying the results of Typhoon No. 19 “turned out all right.”

Opposition lawmakers had criticized Nikai’s typhoon comment as insensitive to victims of the deadly disaster.

The controversy started at an Oct. 13 meeting of LDP executives after Typhoon No. 19 passed through the Kanto region.

“Compared to what was said during the various forecasts, I feel the results turned out all right,” Nikai said of the damage caused by the storm.

On Oct. 15, after another LDP executives meeting, Nikai was asked at a news conference about his remark.

“I will neither retract nor not retract the remark but plan to put my full effort into rebuilding after the natural disaster,” he said.

But when asked by reporters again later that same day, Nikai conceded: “The expression was inappropriate if it led to misunderstanding among disaster victims. I will be more careful about what I say.”

Earlier on Oct. 15 at the Upper House Budget Committee session, Hideya Sugio, a member of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said of Nikai’s words: “It’s an unbelievable comment. I only have anger.”

Sugio represents Nagano Prefecture, one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon.

Satoshi Inoue of the Japanese Communist Party said Nikai’s comment was greatly separated from reality.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also pestered to comment on Nikai’s words. Abe would only say that the damage was far from “all right.”

Nikai is not the first Abe administration lawmaker to utter a gaffe related to a natural disaster.

In April 2017, Masahiro Imamura, who was then reconstruction minister, said about the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, “It was good it occurred in the Tohoku region.”

He resigned the next day.

In April 2019, Yoshitaka Sakurada, then state minister in charge of the Olympics, spoke at a gathering for an LDP lawmaker and said voting for the lawmaker “was more important than reconstruction” from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Sakurada resigned from the Cabinet later that day.