[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/17/art.grassley.cnn.jpg caption="Grassley said he was speaking rhetorically when he said AIG executives 'resign or commit suicide.'"]
(CNN) - Sen. Charles Grassley is standing by his earlier comments suggesting some embattled AIG executives should "resign or commit suicide," but told CNN Tuesday he was merely speaking rhetorically.
"Of course I don't want people to commit suicide," the Iowa Republican said. "But I do want an attitude in corporate American that's similar to what they have in corporate Japan.
"[In Japan], people that run a corporation into a ground have violated their trust with the stockholders and maybe even the taxpayers - they take a very deep bow, they apologize, they are remorseful, they are contrite, they take full responsibility," he added. "We have not heard the sort of apology, remorsefulness, contrition, that we ought to hear from corporate executives in America assuming full responsibility."
Grassley's initial comments came Monday afternoon during an interview with Iowa radio station WMT. During the interview, Grassley endorsed what he viewed as Japan's corporate model, saying it is customary for failed executives to either relinquish their posts or commit suicide in disgrace.
"In the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology," he said during that interview.
A spokesman for AIG called Grassley's initial comments "very disappointing."