Japan’s Olympics Minister, Yoshitaka Sakurada was yesterday forced to resign for remarks that offended people affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami which triggered nuclear meltdowns in 2011.
Sakurada was the most senior Government official in charge of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to be hosted by Tokyo but was effectively forced out of his job less than 500 days before the Games are due to start.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has asked Shunichi Suzuki, the Olympics Minister before Sakurada took the post last October, to fill the vacancy, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Sakurada resigned after saying that Liberal Democratic Party politician Hinako Takahashi from the northeastern region, which was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis, is “more important than the [region’s] recovery”, when he gave a speech at a fundraising party.
The March 2011 tsunami killed around 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
More than 50,000 people have not returned to their home towns.
The Japanese Government have been trying to use the “Reconstruction Olympics” as an opportunity to help rebuild the country following the disaster.