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LDP gives up plan to introduce daylight saving time for Tokyo Olympics

Former minister for Olympic and Paralympic promotion Toshiaki Endo, left, speaks at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party research panel on daylight saving time on Sept. 27, 2018. Lower house member Takeo Kawamura, center, and Hirofumi Nakasone, a House of Councillors lawmaker, listen. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has effectively given up its plan to introduce daylight saving time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The LDP lawmakers promoting the idea conceded that the new system would have a large impact on the daily lives of citizens and there is not enough public support behind the idea. The switch to daylight saving time was considered as a means to combat Japan's intense summer heat that athletes are expected to experience during the games to be held from late July through early September.

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori requested its introduction for the games to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August, and Abe instructed LDP lawmakers to discuss the issue. Toshiaki Endo, former minister in charge of Olympics and Paralympics who was promoting daylight saving time, then told the first meeting of an LDP research panel on the issue that he was not rushing to introduce the measure, saying, "Just listing up (the crucial issues that require consideration) would take more than half a year or longer."

Three of the four Diet members who spoke at the panel were either cautious or negative about the time change strategy. House of Representatives member Takaki Shirasuka said that trying to implement the system in time for the games is too challenging.

"We need to adjust (computer) systems next year for the era change (that comes with the planned Imperial abdication) and engineers would not be able to handle both," he said, pointing out that confusion would be inevitable.

The research panel plans to put together an interim report by the end of this fiscal year in March 2019, and that timing would be too late for the switch to daylight saving time for the period of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

Former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Takeo Kawamura told reporters that the panel is for the introduction, but "there needs to be detailed discussion on when to introduce the time change," suggesting that the participants will continue to discuss the issue for after the international athletic event.

But the LDP's move runs counter to international trends. The European Commission, the administrative arm of the European Union, decided this August to propose the abolition of daylight saving time in the bloc. Even Fumio Kishida, the ruling party's Policy Research Council chief, told Endo that it was "too early" to discuss the subject under himself when the party's position is not yet fixed.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is also cautious about the time change. Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the junior ruling coalition partner Komeito, told reporters on Sept. 27 that members of his party are "fairly negative" about daylight saving time.

(Japanese original by Minami Nomaguchi, Political News Department)

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