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Disabled LDP heavyweight Tanigaki tells party convention 'Paralympic athletes will inspire me'

Former Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki waves to party members during a party convention in Tokyo's Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Feb. 10, 2019. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)

TOKYO -- Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heavyweight Sadakazu Tanigaki, who has retired from politics after suffering cervical cord injuries in a bicycle accident, addressed the party convention on Feb. 10.

"As I'm now disabled, I feel each and every individual faces different challenges. I'd like to see how disabled athletes will overcome their challenges and fight in the games," Tanigaki, former LDP president, said in a special speech, referring to next year's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. "Their efforts will inspire me."

He then expressed hope that Japan would take advantage of the 2020 Games to make the country a barrier-free society.

Tanigaki had a bicycle accident in July 2016 while he was serving as LDP secretary-general, and retired from politics after abandoning running in the 2017 House of Representatives election.

He made his first public appearance since the accident when he visited the prime minister's office in October 2018 to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

At the outset of his speech, he apologized for becoming unable to work as party secretary-general due to the injuries.

"I suddenly became unable to perform my duties because of my carelessness. I'd like to apologize for causing a great deal of trouble to the party," he said. "I'd like you to win nationwide local elections (in spring) and the House of Councillors election (in summer), and establish a stable political situation under Prime Minister Abe."

(Japanese original by Tetsuya Kageyama, Political News Department)

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