Japan's new Olympics minister Endo faces finance, feuding and stadium fuss

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

Japan appointed its first Olympics minister on Thursday, naming a veteran politician to a cabinet post created just last month to guide the country through preparations for the 2020 Summer Games - and a host of thorny issues.

Though Tokyo won the Games largely owing to its organisational prowess, the last year has seen the rolling back of bid promises of a cosy, downtown event, ballooning construction costs and messy arguments between Tokyo and the national government over the tab for the new National Stadium.

Taking the post is Mr Toshiaki Endo, 65, a lawmaker of 22 years who has worked on sports policy, been a senior vice-minister in the Education Ministry and plays rugby. "The prime minister told me to keep in close contact with all the appropriate Cabinet ministers, as well as the Tokyo government, and work hard," he told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

One of Mr Endo's first tasks is likely to be a decision on the final design for the National Stadium, currently the centre of a firestorm over its ballooning costs and what critics say is a general lack of fit with its site in downtown Tokyo, where the now-demolished stadium used for the 1964 Olympics stood.

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