Tokyo Governor Who Helped City Land 2020 Olympics Bid Quits Amid Scandal
Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, the "driving force behind the city’s successful 2020 Olympic bid," said on Thursday that he would "resign over a money scandal," according to Jonathan Soble of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The author-turned-politician, elected a year ago with record voter support, "had been under mounting pressure to quit" after it emerged in November that he had accepted a Y50M ($480,000) loan from the founder of a hospital group at the center of an investigation over electoral violations. Inose said, "Preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics, on which the nation’s honor depend, must not be hindered. I have no choice but to relinquish the governor’s position." It was "an abrupt fall" for a self-described “amateur” politician who "celebrated Tokyo’s Olympic selection in Buenos Aires in September alongside athletes, celebrities and national political leaders" (FT, 12/19). REUTERS reported PM Shinzo Abe said Thursday that Japan "remained committed to offering the best Olympic Games in 2020," and that Inose's resignation "would not affect that." Abe, who worked with Inose to win the bid for '20, said that his resignation "should have no impact on the games." Abe: "Everyone shares the intention to host the best Olympic Games. That remains unchanged. I don’t see any impact" (REUTERS, 12/19).
OLYMPIC IMPACT: KYODO reported Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said that "he is sorry to hear that Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose is resigning over a money scandal." Takeda: “We will keep close contact with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the central government so this development will not affect the setting up of the organizing committee and preparations for the games” (KYODO, 12/19). KYODO also reported the IOC "remains unfazed by the resignation amid scandal" of Inose, saying that his departure "will not affect preparations for the 2020 Games." Inose's exit "leaves a gaping hole" as Tokyo readies to launch its organizing committee by Feb. 7. The IOC, however, "is confident Tokyo's buildup to its second Summer Olympics will not be impacted" (KYODO, 12/19).