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Fukushima question continues to dog Tokyo bid
September 04, 2013 , 9 : 42 pm GST
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Tokyo Governor and chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee Naoki Inose speaks during a visit to the City Hall in Buenos Aires September 4, 2013. Photo - REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian
Tokyo's hopes that continual reassurances about the city being unaffected by the Fukushima nuclear leak would allow them to focus on their bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics were dashed again on Wednesday.
Their opening press conference in Buenos Aires - where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members will vote on Saturday whether they, Madrid or Istanbul will host the Games - was dominated by questions over Fukushima and how it might affect the bid.
The bid president Tsunekazu Takeda was at pains, as he has been throughout, to insist Tokyo was not affected by the nuclear disaster sparked by an earthquake and tsunami - which also claimed the lives of more than 18,000 people - and is very much the Achilles heel of their efforts to win the Games.
While publicly Takeda has said there is nothing to worry about, it has been revealed that he went to the extraordinary length of writing a letter to each member of the IOC to reassure them about Fukushima, where radioactive water is leaking into the ocean.
"I sent a letter to them last week about Fukushima to tell them that Tokyo is very safe," the 65-year-old said.
"The water is safe and the level of radioactivity is absolutely safe. Our Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe has officially announced that the government will be responsible for the project (clearing up Fukushima).
"I am not worried about the Tokyo 2020 bid."
Takeda, elected as a member of the IOC last year, said that continual checking of the radiation levels in Tokyo had yielded no alarming indicators.
"The radiation level is absolutely safe. The 35 million people living in Tokyo are living in normal conditions. There is no problem."
Takeda, who has spoken earlier in the bid of how Tokyo winning the Games would help to heal the wounds caused by the tsunami and earthquake, became increasingly exasperated as question after question focussed on Fukushima, and finally tried to draw a line under the matter.
"At this point the Prime Minister will participate in the final presentation and will talk about this issue and provide reassurance to the IOC about the food etcetera," he said.
"There is no issue here. Not one person in Tokyo has been affected by this issue.
"Tokyo and Fukushima are almost 250 kilometres apart. We are quite remote from Fukushima."
The Fukushima questions had stolen the thunder from Tokyo's big idea for the press conference.
To exemplify Japan's ability to be innovative they unveiled Japan's robot astronaut Kirobo, who was launched into space on August 4 to spend over a year on the International Space Station.
He appeared on screen wearing a Tokyo 2020 pin and under the banner paraphrasing the late Neil Armstrong's words when he first stepped onto the moon: 'a robot took a small step for a future for us all'.
While Kirobo - the world's first talking robot astronaut - gave his support from outer space, his brother and fellow astronaut Mirata was in Buenos Aires and appeared at the press conference to perform alongside Japan's double fencing silver medalist Yuki Ota.
"I'm a bit tired but I wish you good luck with your match," said Mirata.
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