COLUMBIA, S.C. — President Reagan's incoming commerce secretary, William C. Verity Jr., referred during a speech Friday to an innovative American idea that "the Japs took and now we're going to take it back."
Verity used the term Japs , widely used during World War II and now considered a slur, while discussing the benefits of a Rapid Acquisition of Manufactured Parts program in Charleston, S.C., involving the U.S. Navy and private industry.
"You have a reduction of inventory costs due to 'just in time' delivery, a new concept that we had, the Japs took and now we're going to take it back," Verity said.
"It was just a slip and I very much regret it," Verity said later.
George Kondo, a staff member of the Japanese American Citizens League in San Francisco, said Verity's remark was "ludicrous."
"A person of his stature should know better than to use racist remarks," Kondo said. He said he was not sure if his organization, a civil rights group, would make a formal request for an apology.