Olympic Minister Sakurada Resigns

Olympic minister Sakurada resigns

The minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Yoshitaka Sakurada, has stated he is stepping down over comments related to reconstruction efforts in northeastern Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accepted his resignation.

Sakurada attended a party of Hinako Takahashi, a member from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday evening. Takahashi is from Iwate Prefecture and was elected to the Lower House from the Tohoku block in the proportional representative segment.

Sakurada said people from around the world will visit Japan next year and many of them will go to Iwate as well, because one of the themes of the Games is "reconstruction."

Sakurada said he hopes people will join reconstruction efforts with their spirit of hospitality. He then called for support for the LDP lawmaker, saying what is more important than reconstruction is Takahashi.

Sakurada spoke to reporters later in the day after he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Abe. He said he tendered his resignation to take responsibility for his comments.

Sakurada said he is extremely sorry he made remarks that would hurt the feelings of people affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Abe told reporters he deeply apologizes to the people in devastated areas of Tohoku as the Prime Minister.

Abe decided to appoint former minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Shunichi Suzuki, a 65-year-old Liberal Democratic Party member, to replace Sakurada.