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
Apr 20
The world's smallest baby boy, who was born in October in Japan weighing as much as an apple, is now ready for the outside world, his doctor said Friday. (Japan Today)
Apr 20
A woman and her young daughter have died after being struck by a passenger car driven by an 87-year-old man in downtown Tokyo. (NHK)
Apr 20
A law recognizing the Ainu ethnic minority as an indigenous people of Japan has been enacted. (NHK)
Apr 19
Those hoping to watch a tennis match featuring No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games will likely face long odds in the upcoming ticket lottery. (Nikkei)
Apr 18
Can the country welcome 60 million visitors a year without losing its culture -- and its mind? (Nikkei)
Apr 18
A pharmaceutical science professor at a university in Shikoku was referred to prosecutors Tuesday for allegedly instructing his students to produce the synthetic drug MDMA without a permit, the university said Tuesday, in an echo of hit TV series “Breaking Bad.” (Japan Times)
Apr 18
Tissue paper and other daily products sold at Osaka Prison are so expensive that inmates mostly cannot purchase them, a situation amounting to a human rights violation, according to local lawyers. (Japan Times)
Apr 17
The Japanese government plans to proceed with printing new banknotes matching the sample designs it released, even though some people have pointed out that one of the portraits used is different from the probable source photo. (NHK)
Apr 17
For fans, athletes, and volunteers, next year's Tokyo Olympics could become known as the get-up-early games. (Japan Today)
Apr 17
Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, has erupted. (NHK)