The wrestling match between the central government and Tokyo over how to handle the cost of the new stadium for the 2020 Olympics is showing no signs of cooling.
A remark by sports minister Hakubun Shimomura about the possibility of creating a special law obliging the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to shoulder part of the cost prompted Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe to say Friday that such a move would run counter to the Constitution, because it would disregard the need for a consensus among Tokyo’s residents.
Shimomura reportedly hinted Tuesday that legal tactics are underway to ensure the metropolitan government foots some of the cost of the mammoth stadium, which has been roundly criticized for its overreaching design and expanding post-bid price tag.
Citing Article 95 of the Constitution, which stipulates local referendums, Masuzoe said the central government must gain the consent of a majority of Tokyo residents in a local referendum if it wants to create such a law.
The squabble started last month, when Shimomura requested that the metropolitan government foot ¥50 billion of the estimated ¥169 billion needed to build a new stadium to replace the National Stadium, which was built for Tokyo to host the first Summer Games in 1964.
Masuzoe fired back on June 5, saying that the plan would violate the Local Government Financial Act, which prohibits municipalities from bearing the cost of building a national facility. He did allow that Tokyo could bear the ¥5 billion he estimates will be needed to work on the surrounding area, rather than the stadium itself.
The governor further said the debate over whether Tokyo should fork over taxpayer money should come after the national government clearly explains how it came up with its estimate for the bottom line and how the money will be used.
Shimomura has told Masuzoe that the original design may be scaled down, including sacrificing the retractable roof, to reduce the cost and meet the spring 2019 deadline. Japan is scheduled to host the Rugby World Cup in the new stadium that year.
But Shimomura also told reporters Friday that the stadium will be finished as it is currently basically designed, saying that a dramatic overhaul to reduce costs could damage Japan’s international prestige.
Information from Kyodo added