Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa described women as ''birth-giving machines'' in a speech on the country's falling birthrate, but later retracted the remarks, news reports said Sunday.
''The number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 is fixed. The number of birth-giving machines (and) devices is fixed, so all we can ask is that they do their best per head,'' said Yanagisawa. Speaking to Kyodo News agency later in the day, Yanagisawa apologized saying the language he used was ''too uncivil.'' (AP)