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Japan gov't says 'difficult to answer' whether PM Abe is given quota for Olympic tickets

The prime minister's office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government on Dec. 17 passed a Cabinet decision that it was "difficult to answer" whether there are "quotas" granted for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and others for tickets to see the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The decision came as a reply to Maiko Tajima, a House of Councillors member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, who asked whether there were quotas for Abe, the prime minister's office or legislators arranged for them to obtain Olympic tickets. The reason for the Dec. 17 Cabinet decision was "it's unclear what 'quotas for the prime minister, prime minister's office or legislators' were referring to."

Prime Minister Abe has come under fire over his handling of annual cherry blossom-viewing parties, as suspicions remain that he used the events for his own political gain and that some guests were invited through his quota for the government-funded parties.

Tajima argued that as long as the cost of the games is covered by taxpayers' money, it needs to be disclosed to the people of Japan, and asked the government related questions, including the total number of tickets as well as the number of tickets allocated to each group, such as official sponsors, sports associations and tour companies.

In the reply to Tajima passed by the government, it said the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has explained that the total number of tickets and future ticket lottery are yet to be determined. Regarding the number of tickets allocated to different groups, it only said, "It's difficult to answer as 'the scope of related companies, sports associations and tour companies' is vague."

(Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)

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