Nakasone Apologizes for Ethnic Slur

TOKYO--Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone made a "heartfelt apology" yesterday to all Americans for comments that many took as racist slurs against the intelligence of U.S. minorities.

"I realize that my recent remarks have offended many Americans," he said. "I would like to express my heartfelt apology."

Nakasone was quoted Monday as saying Japan has a higher "intelligence level" than the United States because all Japanese are of the same race.

"The level in the United States is lower because of a considerable number of blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans," Nakasone was quoted by two Japanese dailies as telling a group of fellow Liberal Democratic Party politicians. A party official later said the premier was referring to the literacy rate.

"Let me make one thing very clear," the premier's apology said. "I have always firmly believed that America's greatness derives from the dynamism and achievements of her many ethnic communities. It was not my intention whatsoever to imply any racial discrimination nor to criticize any aspect of the American society.

"It is my strong political commitment to strengthen the friendship between our two peoples, and I am determined to work for this cause," Nakasone said.