TOKYO (AFP) - Japan has apologised for "creating a misunderstanding" after suggesting it could step in and hold the 2022 World Cup instead of Qatar, if the Gulf nation is stripped of hosting rights.
Japan Football Association (JFA) president Kuniya Daini made the initial comments in a taped interview with AFP in late March, but he later backtracked following a complaint from Qatar.
When questioned on the matter by AFP, the JFA said that "Daini's intentions were not properly conveyed" and that he was not "actively" seeking to hold the World Cup.
"The article left Qatar officials with the bad impression that the Japan Football Association had expressed its intention to actively invite the 2022 World Cup," the JFA communications department said in a statement.
"Therefore, the Japan Football Association, for its part, sent a letter in which it explained that Daini's intentions were not properly conveyed and it apologised for creating a misunderstanding."
Qatar has come under fire over alleged corruption in the bidding process, and also for the deaths of foreign workers at construction sites - although it is considered unlikely to lose hosting rights.
Daini, when asked what would happen if Qatar lost hosting rights, said at the time: "If Fifa look for an alternative country, we already have the stadiums that would meet the criteria to host it.
"We have the Olympics in 2020. If there is a chance, we'd like to do it, although I don't know how likely that would be."
The JFA said: "He (Daini) was not expressing a willingness to host the 2022 World Cup in Japan.
"After we told Qatar that the president's intentions had not been properly conveyed, the Qatari association said it fully understood."
Meanwhile, Germany-based striker Shinji Okazaki is hoping to cap his record-breaking season by helping Japan reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in their history at Brazil 2014.
He has enjoyed a stellar first season at Mainz, having become the highest-scoring Japanese in a single Bundesliga season when he netted his 14th goal last Saturday to break Shinji Kagawa's previous record.
Kagawa, now with Manchester United, scored 13 goals in his final season for Borussia Dortmund in the 2011-12 season before moving to Old Trafford.