Tokyo, 22 Jumadil Akhir / 1 May 2013 (MINA) – Worried about impact on his city’s bid for the Olympic Games, Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose has apologized to the Muslim world for comments seen offensive to Muslims.
“There were remarks that can lead to misunderstandings among Islamic people,” Inose was quoted as saying Tuesday, April 30 by Japan Daily Press.
“So now I clearly apologize.”
The governor, whose city is bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, has sparked outrage after saying that Muslim countries are belligerent and overly hierarchical.
“Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes,” Inose said in a recent interview with The New York Times.
“For the athletes, where will be the best place to be? Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities,” he said.
Tokyo is competing with Istanbul and Madrid to hold the Olympics for a second time after becoming the first Asian city to host the multi-sport event in 1964.
The governor’s remarks were seen a slight on bidding rival Istanbul, which is vying to become the first city from the Muslim world to host the Games, according to OnIslam.net report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched an investigation into the governor’s remarks.
The IOC rules ban candidates from marking comments on fellow competitors.
A key aspect of the Tokyo bid is that many of its venues have already been constructed.
Tokyo planners also emphasize the compactness of its offer, with 85 percent of the venues located within an 8 km (5 mile) radius of the Olympic Village.
The hosts for the 2020 Olympic Games will be decided at the next IOC Session in Argentina in September.
The mayor said that his remarks have been misunderstood.
“If there are remarks that can be misunderstood, it is the inadequacy of my expression,” Inose told reporters.
“I said (people) are fighting in some Islamic countries, but I think it was inappropriate. I want to correct it.”
The governor has also reiterated respect for the IOC rules banning comments on competitors.
“I want to keep campaigning strictly in accordance with the IOC rules that one should not criticize other cities,” he said.
“From now on I will campaign along these proper guidelines with respect to other cities’ bids so that such incidents don’t happen anymore.”
Tokyo’s Olympic bid committee has also sought to ease the impact of the governor’s comments.
“Tokyo 2020 fully respects and adheres to the IOC guidelines for the candidate cities,” it said in a statement.
“We have the utmost respect for all candidate cities and have always taken pride in bidding in a spirit based on the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship.”
Islam began in Japan in the 1920s through the immigration of a few hundreds of Turkish Muslims from Russia following the Russian revolution.
In 1930, the number of Muslims in Japan reached about 1000 of different origins.
Another wave of migrants who boosted the Muslim population reached its peak in the 1980s, along with migrant workers from Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Japan today is home for a thriving Muslim community of about 120,000, among nearly 127 million in the world’s tenth most populated country.(T/P08/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)