A Japanese lawmaker has come under fire after saying women should have several children or risk becoming a burden on the state.

Kanji Kato, a 72-year-old MP in Prime Minister Shizo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said newlyweds should raise at least three children.

The minister in charge of women’s empowerment on Saturday lashed out at his remarks.

“It was a terrible gaffe,” Seiko Noda, who is also internal affairs minister and a senior member of the LDP, said in a speech, according to local media.

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Giving birth is different to making products, she said, adding: “The number of children won’t increase by just making such remarks.”

Earlier this week Kato reportedly told a group of LDP members: “I ask bridal couples to bear and raise more than three children for sure.”

Kato also said he often told young women that if they do not get married and have no offspring, they will end up in a care home run with the taxes of other people’s children.