Olympic minister resigns over 2011 disaster remarks
Japan Today -- Apr 11
Japan's Olympic minister resigned Wednesday after making remarks deemed offensive to the people affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a gaffe that had questioned his credentials.

Yoshitaka Sakurada said he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He said he made comments that hurt the feelings those in the disaster-hit areas, and just retracting them would not be enough.

Sakurada, at a party earlier Wednesday for Hinako Takahashi — a ruling lawmaker from Iwate, one of the prefectures severely hit by the disaster — said Takahashi is more important than reconstruction.

Sakurada was in charge of the 2020 Games, whose main theme is to promote reconstruction of the disaster-struck region.

Abe was quick in his damage control. Soon after accepting Sakurada's resignation, he apologized for the minister's remark to the people in the disaster-hit region, reassuring them that his government has an unshakable policy to do the utmost for reconstruction while staying close to the feelings of the people affected.

"As prime minister, I offer an apology to everyone in the disaster-hit areas," Abe said. "I have a responsibility for having appointed him."

Former Olympic minister Shunichi Suzuki is expected to return to the post to replace Sakrada, Japanese media reports said.

Sakurada joined Abe's cabinet as part of its reshuffle last year, quickly making a reputation as a gaffe-prone minister.

Sakurada, who also doubled as cybersecurity strategy chief, said in November that he does not use a computer. In February, he was forced to apologize after expressing disappointment over swimming gold medal hopeful Rikako Ikee's disclosure of her leukemia diagnosis. Sakurada was also scolded for being late and holding up a parliamentary session.

桜田オリンピック・パラリンピック担当大臣が「復興以上に大事な議員」などと発言して辞任しました。 桜田大臣は10日夜、都内で開かれた自民党の高橋比奈子衆議院議員のパーティーであいさつして「復興以上に大事なのが高橋さん」と発言しました。
News sources: Japan Today, ANNnewsCH
Jun 15
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a 48-year-old man over the alleged abduction of a high school he met online, a crime he committed in order for them both to commit suicide, reports TBS News (June 13). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jun 15
Iran's supreme leader told Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday that it was pointless to reply to a message he had brought to Tehran from U.S. President Donald Trump, as a peacemaking visit was overshadowed by attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. (Japan Today)
Jun 14
A record 3,129 people were stranded on Japanese mountains last year amid a continued boom in activities such as climbing and walking, a police report revealed Thursday. (Japan Today)
Jun 14
Japan leads the world in paid leave set aside for fathers, but few take advantage of it, according to a new report by the U.N. Children's Fund based on legal entitlements from 2016. (Japan Today)
Jun 14
A 23-year-old male university student was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of killing a doctor at her apartment in Higashine, Yamagata Prefecture, last month, local police said. (Japan Times)
Jun 14
Toyama Prefectural Police have arrested a 52-year-old living in Toyama City who has confessed to killing up to 100 pet cats, reports the Sankei Shimbun (June 13). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jun 13
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday to avoid a further escalation of tensions and an unintended military conflict in the Middle East, as he sought to nudge Tehran toward dialogue as a mediator with the United States. (Kyodo)
Jun 13
The Diet on Wednesday passed a bill requiring dog and cat breeders to microchip animals, and owners to voluntarily do the same to their pets, in a bid to reduce the number of strays. (Japan Times)
Jun 13
A public uproar has forced the government to retract a controversial report claiming that retired couples reliant on public pensions also need sizable savings, but this backpedaling could further delay Japan's much needed reckoning with the overburdened program. (Nikkei)
Jun 12
Japan's westernmost point has moved further west by about 110 meters, after it was decided to include an ocean rock on official maps. (NHK)