National

Shimomura announces plans to launch Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing panel

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Tokyo and Japan will launch an organizing committee on Jan. 24 to start preparations for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, education minister Hakubun Shimomura said Wednesday.

The plan was made to fulfill an international promise with the International Olympic Committee to set up the committee within five months after the capital was selected in September to be the host.

“We can no way stumble from the start before launching the committee,” Shimomura told reporters at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, stressing that the country has been getting ready to host the global sports event.

He also said he, Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda and Tokyo Vice Gov. Toshiyuki Akiyama on Tuesday asked former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to chair the organizing committee. Mori, who served prime minister for one year from April 2000, agreed to head the committee.

Japan should set 2020 as a target year from when the nation would head off to a new growth path, said Shimomura, who doubles as minister in charge of Olympics.

“We’re thinking about measures to spread the ripple effects (from the Olympics) to the whole country. For instance, there would be about 200 countries participating in the Olympics, so 47 prefectures or some 1,700 municipalities could serve as their training camp sites,” he said.

Shimomura also revealed plans to invite 10,000 top-notch artists from the world, who would stay all over the country to enjoy Japanese traditional cultures and regional events.

“I regard the year 2020 is a chance to promote Japan as a culture-and-art-oriented nation,” he said.

Shimomura said he hopes the people in the world in 2020 would see rejuvenated Tohoku and Fukushima, which was hit hard by the March 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis, so the government should accelerate its effort toward reconstruction of the region by setting the Olympics year deadline.