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Green Tokyo Olympics a chance to bring 'mottainai' concept to world: Tokyo governor

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is aiming to make the three "Rs" (reduce, reuse, recycle) the "base" of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and vault the word "mottainai" -- a Japanese concept roughly translatable as "regrettable wastefulness" -- into the global lexicon, she told reporters at the Japan National Press Club on Sept. 6.

She led into the topic by touching on Rio de Janeiro's plans for its temporary Olympic facilities, which were designed to be dismantled after the games and the materials reused to build public schools.

One strong proponent of the three Rs was 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, who used the word "mottainai" to express the goals of her advocacy campaigns. She helped spread the term across the world, and developed the "Mottainai Campaign" for promoting environmental responsibility backed by The Mainichi Newspapers and other parties.

At the news conference, Koike tied the swelling cost of the 2020 Games to the three Rs and being responsible to the environment, saying, "This is a wonderful chance to broadcast the mottainai message to the world. If we try to shrink the 2-3 trillion yen budget estimate without this concept, then we won't have the opportunity to connect it with the buildup to the Games."

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