A Japanese mayor has apologized for saying two weeks ago that U.S. troops should patronize legal adult entertainment businesses to help reduce rapes and other assaults.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said Monday that his earlier remarks rose from a "sense of crisis" about cases of sexual assaults by U.S. military personnel on Japanese civilians in Okinawa, where a large number of U.S. troops are based.

He said now he understands "my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. forces and to the American people" and was inappropriate.

Hashimoto is also the co-head of an emerging nationalistic party. He created a previous uproar when he also said that Japan's wartime practice of forcing Asian women to work in front-line brothels was necessary to maintain discipline.