The government said Thursday it no longer sees U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's remarks that were taken as criticizing Japanese political leaders' perception of wartime history as questionable.
Ban's "true intent has become clear," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference, a day after a senior Japanese official met with Ban in the Netherlands and asked what he meant by his comments.
Ban was quoted by Suga as telling Japan's Senior Vice Foreign Minister Masaji Matsuyama that he "is well aware" of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's position on the perception of history and Japan's longtime efforts as a peaceful nation.
Speaking to journalists Monday in Seoul, Ban said Japanese leaders should have "deep reflection and vision to look toward the international future in an effort to foster friendly ties with a correct view of past history."
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, was referring to the conflict between Japan and China and South Korea over some Japanese lawmakers' views on Japan's wartime aggression in the region, as well as to moves by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party to revise the country's pacifist Constitution.
Japan sharply reacted to the comments, with officials in Tokyo saying they would inquire through the United Nations what Ban intended to say because his remarks apparently lacked neutrality as a U.N. chief.
On Wednesday, Ban told Matsuyama that his comments were not directed solely at Japan and regretted that there was "misunderstanding" in Japan about the remarks, according to Japanese officials.
The secretary general said he had intended to say in Seoul that political differences and tension "should be resolved through dialogue, by the strong will of leaders."