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Ex-PM Abe says 'anti-Japan' people are strongly opposing Tokyo Olympics

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized those opposing Japan's hosting of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in a magazine piece, saying people tagged as being anti-Japan are now intensely criticizing the games.

    "People who have been criticized by some as anti-Japan because of their historical perceptions and other views are now strongly opposing staging the Olympics," Abe said in a discussion published in the current edition of monthly magazine Hanada. As specific examples, Abe cited the Japanese Communist Party and the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which called for the games to be cancelled in an editorial in May.

    Speaking on the significance of the Olympics, Abe said that people being moved together when Japanese athletes win medals and perform amazing feats leads to "mutual confirmation of the bonds between Japanese people." He stressed there was "historical significance in Japan making the games a success as a country believing in freedom and democracy," adding that Japan had "a responsibility" to do so. As for why opposition parties have criticized the hosting of the games, he said, "They probably feel displeasure about the Olympics being successful in Japan."

    Regarding the heated stance taken by Yukio Edano, head of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, during a party leader's debate with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on June 9, Abe said, "He really hates it when his plan (for a speech) crumbles." He added, "Some people take the view that he's really narcissistic, so he can't stand it when he's criticized." Abe said that when he was prime minister, Edano "had a tendency to avoid interactive debate, starting and ending with criticism."

    The former prime minister's comments appeared in the magazine as part of a dialogue with journalist Yoshiko Sakurai.

    (Japanese original by Ryuko Tadokoro, Political News Department)

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