Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko explained at a press conference May 31 that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not say that the world economy today resembled that shortly before the 2008 economic crisis, but that Seko himself had mischaracterized the prime minister's words.
On May 26, Seko had told reporters after seven world leaders at the G-7 Ise-Shima Summit discussed the world economy, "The prime minister said, 'The global economic situation resembles that before the collapse of Lehman Brothers,' and the other leaders agreed with that view."
Using various briefing materials, Abe emphasized at the summit that the global economy was at levels similar to that before the 2008 crisis.
However, foreign media struck down Abe's remarks, with the British newspaper the Financial Times reporting on "the implausibility of his comparison with 2008 -- the world economy is growing steadily, rather than falling apart." Criticism has erupted even within Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, which likely prompted the government to "explain" itself out of the faux pas.
At a party board meeting on May 30, the prime minister himself said, "There have been reports that I said that the current economic situation 'resembles pre-Lehman collapse levels,' but they are completely wrong. What I said was that indices regarding up-and-coming economies show a decline not seen since the 2008 crisis."