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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC



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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike Interview

Oct. 19, 2016

Q: As multiple controversy continue to grow in Tokyo particularly planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics games, Newsroom Tokyo requested interview with the head of the nation's capital Governor, Yuriko Koike.
今、東京では様々な問題が浮上していますが、特に2020年に開催される東京オリンピック、パラリンピックに関しての議論が高まっています。NEWSROOM TOKYOは、小池百合子東京都知事にインタビューを依頼してきました。

Madame governor, thank you for coming. A very warm welcome and thank you for agreeing to come to our studio.

Koike: Thank you very much for inviting me today.

Q: Well, it's almost close to three months since you assumed the post of the governor of Tokyo.

Koike: Actually, eighty days.

Q: Before you assumed this post, did you expect or foresee that you'd be in the situation that you are in now that you are facing many problems all at once? Some even call this a "Koike Theater."

Koike: It's not a theater at all. I have expected some, but I haven't expected that much. There is so many agenda in front of me, but I dare to challenge, to tackle these problems and to make good solutions for the people of Tokyo.

Q: Now let's take a quick look at who Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike is and the city she has.

The population of the city of Tokyo is more than thirteen million. The annual budget is about 130 billion dollars. That's the size of the national budget of Sweden or Indonesia.

Governor Koike is the first woman to lead this massive metropolis. Koike graduated from Cairo University in Egypt and she worked as an anchor for a TV news program. In 1992 she entered national politics as a Diet member. She later became Environmental Minister and then Defense Minister. She gave up her seat in the Diet to run for Tokyo Governor. Although her party, the Liberal Democratic Party, backed a different candidate, Koike won by a landslide.

Q: So Governor, Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. What kind of games do you envision?

Koike: An Olympics and Paralympics to strive for the Tokyo games. I like to see Japan a mature nation it is to be a forceful and positive change in the world. And I would like to see that change in the world and I would like to see the change passed on as the future legacy of these games. The foundation of current Tokyo infrastructure including the Metropolitan Expressway and bullet trains were completed during the same period prior to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the games that signaled to the world the arrival of Japan in the midst of high growth. And the 2020 games will not be simply a rehash of 1964. Instead, these games must present Tokyo to the world as a mature and cutting edge global city.

Q: To do that, we need cost. Some estimate that it will rise up to 3 trillion yen, which is 30 billion US dollars. That's four time the original estimation. How are you going to cut the budget when we do know that the national organization committee is saying that we've studied a lot already, and we already know that it's difficult to change things now. And there was a promise made to the international side as well. Basically they're saying that it's not good to change after the bidding is won. How do you think that we will proceed with that cost-cutting?

Koike: The cost-cutting is very inevitable. The taxpayers of City of Tokyo should be satisfied with the number of figures. In order to do so, I need to re-check the whole budget plan and also to revise which venue is most appropriate for the games and for the citizens of Tokyo and also for all the people of Japan. And I think that I have to convince people and also have good games in front of the spectators of the world.

So, I'm re-checking the whole thing but I should have the answer or the result. Our special team is analyzing the whole venue cost and the budget. And it will be done by the end of this month. And I'm going to make the information or to tell IOC as well as the organization committee and JOC and JPC and also the international federation and the national federation as well.

Yesterday, I met with President Bach of IOC and we had a deep discussion. Actually, it was all televised because my policy as the governor of Tokyo to keep the transparency and in order to get rid of the suspicion of the people of Tokyo, to keep the transparency of Tokyo metropolitan policies and to make a more informative policy is the basic policy of mine. And same as the games, I mean the Tokyo games, should be transparent and should be accountable and responsible. I talked to President Bach about my idea and also what's going on in Tokyo and metropolitan government to re-check the venue and the whole cost. And we're going to have four party talks which is functional and I really appreciate his request to have this format of four party talks.

Q: Some people say that you scored a victory with this format of four party talks but some people say that you may be in a difficult position. You are one and the other side is three. How do you think that you can convince the other parties in this format?

Koike: I think this is very practical because all of these discussions take place in the same meeting. I requested the president, Mr. Bach, that this meeting will be televised. There is no secret and no cheating. And I think there is no winner, I mean, everybody will be the winner in this meeting. We have the shared goal of making the 2020 games a success and going forward. There will be discussions among four parties like we just discussed and I want to continue working closely with all stake holders and with transparency in order to ensure a deeper understanding of the citizens of Tokyo and Japan. I think it will work.

Q: You said that this is the last chance to revise things and that it's only four years until the Olympics will start. How long do you think that this four party talks will continue? Will it continue for weeks, or months or will it even be a year?

Koike: No, no, no. 'Cause we only have 1,374 days left to go. Of course the preparation needs time and the time is running short. So it doesn't take much time. And as soon as the Metropolitan government decide and other three parties accepted and all the games...not the Olympic Games...but the games for the 2020 Tokyo will start completely.

Q: President Bach just said this afternoon after he met the Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe that as IOC he has an idea to have some events hold in the disaster-hit areas, disaster of five years ago. How do you react to his remarks?

Koike: Well, it's wonderful response from President Bach and I really welcome his idea. And the Olympic Games for recovery of disaster hit areas delivers a very powerful message. By looking at the Naganuma, it seems lately that we have forgotten about the idea of recovery, and I believe that using temporary housing built after the Great East Japan Earthquake as accommodations for the Olympics and Paralympics, could send a large message as well. This is one of the choices for the time...

Q: It's not your only choice?

Koike: No, no, no, no. We are reconsidering the whole venue. That's one of the examples. And I want the city of Tokyo to consider these sites in the disaster area. And I think this will give a very powerful message to the world. Because the recovery, the reconstruction is taking place until today, but it's going forward. And this is the time to thank the world who supported the area hit by the tsunami and earthquake. And today we see so many areas which were hit by typhoons, cyclones because of the climate change...the climate is now very, very unstable and many disasters hit everywhere in the world. So I think supporting the Tohoku area by holding Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2020 will give, not only to the disaster area, but also to the other areas in the world.

Q: Talking about the world, and changing the subject, you are facing another thorny issue, which is the Tsukiji fish market relocation. I had a friend from France who visited this market with me this summer they loved it. They said it's fantastically Japan. And they looked a bit sad when I was explained that it might move away. They said why don't you just keep it. Will it really move to Toyosu do you think it's a very difficult option nowadays given the situation? According to some at least.

Koike: Well, as you have said that Tsukiji is now the world-famous sightseeing place. But actually it's a fish market. And Tsukiji has a legacy. It's really a very vivid place to visit. And as for the relocation there are three issues. Safety concerns are enormous and uncertain cost increase and the lack of information disclosure. This is the relocation area.

Q: In the new area.

Koike: That's right. And actually we have to seek the proof. To inform people that the new location is really safe.

Q: Why don't you just keep Tsukiji - of course not as it is - but refurbish it, restore it or modernize it a little?

Koike: Well,

Q: Is that an option?

Koike: People try to do so but the area is so small today and many hygiene rules have changed and many laws have also changed. So in order to fit today's standards we have to seek another way. But Tsukiji is really a wonderful place and I personally like the place. And as for the Toyosu market in addition to issues of testing for presence of ground contamination and testing of building strength and safety for usage, the problem of distributing relocation costs and Ring Road No. 2 must be solved to meet the necessity of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Because the Athletes Village is located in the southern part of Tokyo and the Tsukiji area has to share the land for building this new Ring Road.

And regards to these issues an expert committee and the food market team are being asked to examine the issues from the experts' perspective to make sure of the safety of the new area. And it may take a little more time but I think we seek the best choice but also safety is the first. Safety is the most important issue that we have to seek. Both for Tsukiji and the new location called Toyosu.

Q: Madame Governor, before we end this interview, just one thing. You're always talking about the importance of a diverse city, you yourself have a very diverse background. In addition to speaking Japanese and English you are an Arabic speaker. Our program is watched by many people from the Middle East. Do you have any message in Arabic?

Koike: Yes. I'm going to say that Tokyo is a wonderful, beautiful city, safe city. So welcome. I will deliver this is in Arabic. Okay.

(Speaks in Arabic)

Q: Thank you, Madame Governor, once again.
キャスター: 小池知事、本日はどうもありがとうございました。