By Keigo Sakai and Itaru Koshimura / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WritersThe central government, Tokyo metropolitan government and other local governments, as well as the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, will start full-fledged talks as early as this week, primarily over who should pay ¥280 billion for the construction of temporary sports facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Local governments have strongly opposed shouldering more of the cost, and the talks are expected to face serious challenges. With 3½ years left until the Games, a mountain of other issues, such as security and transportation, must still be discussed.
Abe: They’re Tokyo Games
“These are the Tokyo Games. So we naturally expect the Tokyo metropolitan government to take the lead with a sense of commitment,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during an NHK TV program aired on Sunday, stressing that the Tokyo government should comply with the growing burden of the expenses of the Tokyo Games.
Abe held talks on Saturday with organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister. He will talk with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Tuesday at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Discussions among officials representing the central, Tokyo and relevant local governments and the committee are due to take place this week.
Prior to the discussions, Abe reaffirmed the central government’s stance that it “cannot comply with an increasing burden stemming from unclear reasons.”
The committee announced late last year that the Games would cost an estimated ¥1.6 trillion to ¥1.8 trillion. Of this figure, the focus will be on how to share the ¥280 billion cost of constructing temporary facilities.
The committee was originally supposed to bear the entire cost of the temporary facilities, which will be demolished in principle after the Games. However, it became impossible for the committee alone to cover the entire cost, and it expressed its readiness to shoulder ¥80 billion, while asking for the remaining ¥200 billion to be covered by the central government, Tokyo and 10 municipalities — six prefectures and four ordinance-designated cities — that will house the facilities.
‘Committee should cover’
The central and Tokyo metropolitan governments and the organizing committee plan to decide on the outline of the cost-sharing scheme by March. The application file submitted by the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee to the International Olympic Committee stipulates that the Tokyo government will compensate for any shortfall in the organizing committee’s funding, and that the central government will do so if the Tokyo government cannot cover the expenses.
Koike on Saturday indicated her intention on a TV program to positively consider bearing the cost of temporary facilities to be built in Tokyo. However, Koike must by all means prevent the Tokyo government’s burden from growing significantly, as her proposal for a review of three Tokyo facilities ended in failure.
Last year, the metropolitan government’s investigation team proposed that the costs of temporary facilities to be built outside Tokyo “should be covered by relevant local governments with subsidies from the central government,” urging the state and municipalities to cooperate.
In response, most of the municipalities involved agreed that “the organizing committee should shoulder the expenses in any case.” According to the committee’s calculation in November, the total cost to build the temporary facilities outside Tokyo — excluding baseball and softball as well as surfing, which were added later for the 2020 Games — is ¥48.9 billion. Strapped local municipalities are unlikely to accept the investigation team’s proposal.
Wary of Koike’s moves
There have been warnings within the central government and the Liberal Democratic Party to avoid an all-out confrontation with the Tokyo metropolitan government because Koike will try to field her own candidates for the metropolitan assembly election in summer, aiming to win a majority of assembly seats together with forces that support her. There are a total of 127 seats in the assembly.
Abe said on the NHK program Sunday, “The central government is willing to support [the metropolitan government] when necessary.”
Alternative ideas have emerged within the central government, such as the central government shouldering part of the cost for security and transportation measures that should be covered by the Tokyo metropolitan government and the organizing committee.Speech