Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori has apologised but said he will not resign ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori has apologised for his "inappropriate" remarks about women but refused to resign from his position, despite the outrage triggered by his comments.

Speaking at a hastily-arranged press briefing today, Mori claimed he was "deeply sorry" and said he "would like to retract what I said".

The 83-year-old former Japanese Prime Minister, known for a string of public gaffes, suggested women talk too much in meetings and they have "difficulty" speaking concisely.

He risked sparking further controversy when pressed about whether he thought women did talk too much.

"I don't listen to women that much lately so I don't know," he said today.

Mori had faced calls to stand down as head of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee after the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported the comments he made during a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC).

"On boards with a lot of women, the meetings take so much time," he said.

"When you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn't restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying."

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President said he was deeply sorry for the offence he had caused ©Getty Images
The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President said he was deeply sorry for the offence he had caused ©Getty Images

Mori, who did not dispute the report in one of Japan's biggest newspapers, said he "was not thinking about resigning".

The phrases "enough already," "misogyny" and "we demand Yoshiro Mori resigns" were all trending on Twitter in Japan this morning.

"My recent remarks at the JOC Council meeting were inappropriate and also contrary to the Olympic and Paralympic spirit," he said. 

"I deeply regret my comments and would like to sincerely apologise to anyone whom I have offended.

"Gender equality is an essential element of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and I am grateful for the active participation of women, both athletes and officials, and their invaluable contributions in making the Games a success.

"I am particularly sorry that my remarks came during an important time for all parties involved, with less than half a year until the start of the Tokyo 2020 Games."

Mori told The Mainichi newspaper his family had admonished him for the remarks.

"Last night, my wife gave me a thorough scolding," he said. 

"She said: 'You've said something bad again, haven't you? I'm going to have to suffer again because you've antagonised women.'

"This morning, my daughter and granddaughter scolded me as well."

The furore reached the highest levels of the Japanese Government, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga admitting Mori should not have made the comments.

Former world judo champion Kaori Yamaguchi, who attending the JOC meeting, warned his remarks could hamper public trust in the organisation of the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Given his position, it was quite unfortunate - and the fact that it was sent out to the world, it wasn't just an individual point of view but suggested to the world that Japanese may still think this way," she said, according to Reuters.

Japan has faced criticism for its gender equality efforts as it ranks 121 out of 153 nations surveyed in the 2020 global gender gap report of the World Economic Forum.

The JOC only has five women on its 24-member Executive Board and there are seven females on the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board, according to Mori.

Mori's comments will not have been well received within the Olympic Movement, which is still striving for gender equality amid a lack of female representation in senior roles.

Marisol Casado and Annika Sorenstam are the only two female heads of a Summer Olympic International Federation (IF), while Kate Caithness is the sole woman in charge of a Winter Olympic IF.