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Tokyo Olympics minister resigns over comments

April 10, 2019

After two much publicized comments, the man in charge of Tokyo's Olympics and Paralympic Games has resigned. His remarks referred to earthquake recovery efforts and a swimmer with leukemia.

Tokyo's New National Stadium
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/A. Di Ciommo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accepted the resignation of Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada on Wednesday. 

"Minister Sakurada offered to resign as he made comments that hurt the feelings of those in the disaster-affected areas," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

In relation to Japan's recovery from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown which left thousands of people dead, injured and homeless, Sakurada suggested support for a politician was more important than restoration. At a Tokyo party for Hinako Takahashi, a ruling party lawmaker, Sakurada had stated: "Takahashi is more important than restoration. Please extend your assistance."

In February, Sakurada had expressed disappointment at swimmer Rikako Ikee's diagnosis of leukemia, suggesting it would dampen enthusiasm for the Olympics: "I'm really disappointed," and added, "I'm worried that the swell [for the Games] might go down a bit."

Read more:  Japan struggles with English-language signs ahead of 2020 Olympics

Announcing his resignation on Wednesday, Sakurada said: "I felt responsible and submitted a letter of resignation" to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Sakurada had been in charge of Tokyo's 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games. 

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jm/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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