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Tokyo Governor targets cost-cutting plans for 2020 Olympics

Tokyo’s newly-elected Governor, Yuriko Koike, has reiterated her determination to slash costs for the Japanese capital’s staging of the 2020 summer Olympic Games, saying she has up to 18 months to come up with a new financial plan.

In July, Koike (pictured) was elected as Tokyo’s first-ever female Governor, defeating Japan’s ex-Minister for Internal Affairs Hiroya Masuda, and former journalist Shuntaro Torigoe to land the role. The 64-year-old replaced Yoichi Masuzoe as Governor of Tokyo. Masuzoe resigned in June following allegations that he had used political funds for personal purposes.

Koike is now reviewing plans for the Olympics, with a mid-term report due before the city’s assembly opens on September 28. “I believe this will lead to cutting costs,” Koike told the Bloomberg news agency. “It’s obvious that the budget is growing bigger and bigger, just like in the bubble period,” she added, referring to the Japanese economic crisis that arose after stock prices peaked in late 1989.

The three candidates for the Governor’s role had all pledged to address the rising costs associated with preparations for Tokyo 2020 if elected to power. Organising committee president Yoshiro Mori in July said that the cost of developing seven temporary venues for the Games had risen to an estimated $2.6bn (€2.33bn), up from an initial forecast of $690m. Before the election, Koike had claimed that she’d heard the Games budget had expanded to six times the original estimate of $3bn.

To avoid increases in the cost of construction materials, Koike said that final plans must be in place about two-and-a-half to three years before the Games open in July 2020. She wants some Olympic venues to be temporary, with building materials to be re-used.

Koike added that the first move in “showing her determination” to cut costs will be to propose to the Tokyo assembly that her own salary be halved from the current figure of about Y29m (€252,000/$281,000) per year.

“When I took on the challenge of running for governor, I wanted to change the way Tokyo is run, to cut wasteful spending, and this would be part of it,” she said. “I didn’t do it for the money – I think I could have made much more if I’d stayed a newscaster.”