A lawmaker from Japan's ruling party apologized on Monday for telling a female member of the Tokyo city assembly to "hurry up and get married", an incident that embarrassed the government as it makes a major push to increase women in the workforce.
City assembly member Ayaka Shiomura, 35, was talking about measures to support child raising and boost fertility during a session last week when male lawmakers interrupted her with cries of "Hurry up and get married" and "Can't you give birth?"
Lawmaker Akihiro Suzuki, who earlier had denied making one of the remarks, on Monday bowed deeply at a hastily-called news conference to apologize for what he called an "inappropriate" remark.
"I did not make these remarks out of any intention to insult lawmaker Shiomura," the 51-year-old Suzuki said.
"I recognize that there are women who want to get married and can't, and those who want to have children and can't. My comments were lacking in concern towards people like that."
The jeers outraged Japan and also riled officials in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since it comes just as the government is set to unveil economic plans that include boosting women in the workforce in a society where many believe a woman's place is still at home.
Suzuki, who earlier met with Shiomura to apologies to her in person, said he had resigned from the LDP but would remain in the Tokyo assembly to "help improve the situation there".