Tokyo Japan's defense minister said Saturday that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States during World War II was an inevitable way to end the war, drawing criticism from atomic bomb survivors.
"I understand that the bombing ended the war, and I think that it couldn't be helped," Kyuma said in a speech at a university in Chiba, just east of Tokyo.
The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II, in the world's only nuclear attacks.
Kyuma, who is from Nagasaki, said the bombing caused great suffering in the city. Part of his speech was aired by public broadcaster NHK.
He also said he did not resent the U.S. because the bombs prevented the Soviet Union from entering the war with Japan, according to Kyodo News agency.
The remarks, rare for a Japanese Cabinet minister, were quickly criticized by atomic bomb victims.
Kyuma said later that his comments had been misinterpreted, telling reporters he meant to say the bombing "could not be helped from the American point of view."