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Japan Olympic minister Yoshitaka Sakurada resigns after latest gaffe

Japan Olympic minister Yoshitaka Sakurada resigns after latest gaffe

Japan’s Olympic Minister has resigned due to his unpolite comments, which hurt feelings of the Japanese people in 2011 disaster-affected regions.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, the Olympic Minister, preferred to resign after his latest gaffe. Prime minister Shinzo Abe has decided to ask lower house lawmaker Shunichi Suzuki to fill the vacancy. In fact, Mr Suzuki was Olympic minister until last October when Sakurada took the post. For Japan that will be hosting the next Olympic Games in 2020 such a reshuffle in the Cabinet is very undesirable.

Mr Sakurada attended a fundraising party hosted by Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Hinako Takahashi earlier that evening, where he said support for “Ms. Takahashi is more important than reconstruction efforts” for the 2011 disaster (Takahashi represents a district that was struck by 2011 earthquake).  That remark offended people affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered nuclear meltdowns in 2011. Sakurada later took back his comment.

“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 on Wednesday after he accepted Sakurada’s resignation.

“It is the Abe government’s unwavering policy to do everything we can for recovery while keeping in touch with the feelings of people in disaster-hit areas… As prime minister, I would like to offer my deep apology for the comment,” Yoshitaka Sakurada apologized.

The Japanese government is still recovering the areas affected by the tsunami in 2011. The natural disasters, both tsunami and earthquake, engulfed large swathes of eastern Japan’s Pacific coast, left more than 20,000 people dead or missing. Gaffe-prone Sakurada said last month that it was fortunate that arterial roads in northern Japan remained operational following the disaster.

In fact, many of the main roads in the tsunami- and quake-hit areas, in fact, were not passable and highways were closed for non-emergency vehicles.