Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Saturday that if Japanese athletes perform well at the Tokyo Olympics, they will give a boost to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the Lower House election expected in the fall.
"The fact that Japanese athletes are doing well in the Olympics gives us great strength," Kawamura, a Lower House member, said at a meeting in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
In response to criticisms over holding the Games amid the spread of COVID-19 infections, Kawamura said, "I think the infections would have increased even without the Olympics."
"If we didn't have the Olympics, the public's dissatisfaction would be directed toward the ruling party and the administration more and more, and we would be forced to face a tough fight in the election," he said.
Asked by reporters after the meeting whether his remarks could be seen as a politicization of the Olympics, Kawamura said: "The LDP has taken the position that the Olympics should go ahead. I have no intention whatsoever to use the Olympics for politics."
Renho, an Upper House member of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, tweeted Saturday, "Is the Olympics for the LDP, for the party to maintain the administration and for the general elections? I don't think so."