Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Tokyo governor 'sorry' over Islam gaffe

Comments on Islamic countries have nothing in common but Allah and 'fighting with each other' is seen as a slight on Tokyo's Olympic 2020 bidding rival Istanbul.

TOKYO // The governor of Tokyo apologised to the Muslim world today after saying Islamic countries have nothing in common but Allah and "fighting with each other".

Naoki Inose, whose city is bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, was forced into the climbdown after telling The New York Times that Islamic nations are belligerent and overly hierarchical.

The comments were seen as a swipe at bidding rivals Istanbul, which is vying to become the first Muslim city to host the Games.

"Islamic countries, the only thing they have in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes," the governor was quoted as saying through an interpreter in the article published on Friday.

After returning from New York, Mr Inose initially defended his remarks, saying the article did not reflect his true opinions.

"The story made it seem as if Tokyo was criticising the other bid cities, but my intention was not delivered correctly," the author-turned politician said on the government's Facebook page.

"I had no intention of criticising the other candidate cities at all," Mr Inose said. "It was extremely regrettable that such an article whose context differs from that of the interview was published."

But yesterday, a chastened Inose appeared before television cameras to say sorry.

"There were remarks that can lead to misunderstandings among Islamic people," he said. "So now I clearly apologise. If there are remarks that can be misunderstood, it is the inadequacy of my expression.

"I said [people] are fighting in some Islamic countries, but I think it was inappropriate. I want to correct it."

Mr Inose's comments come as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is set to arrive in Saudi Arabia, on the first stop of a swing through the Middle East that will also include Turkey.

Tokyo's bid office had already moved to neutralise the effect of the gaffe, amid fears it may fall foul of International Olympic Committee rules prohibiting criticism of other bid cities.

In a statement submitted to the IOC, Tokyo 2020 said they had been taken by surprise by the article and said it may have given the impression that it had gone beyond the IOC rules preventing negative comments about other cities.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Supporters of unseen India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, wave as he arrives to file his election nomination papers in Varanasi. Sanjay Kanojia / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world April 24

The National View's photo editors pick the best of the day from around the world

 Iranian workers at the Iran Khodro auto plant in Tehran on March 18. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

Iran’s love of cars survives devastating sanctions

Sanctions and energy subsidy reductions might have hurt the Iranian automotive industry. But car makers at one factory are still optimistic, Yeganeh Salehi reports from Tehran

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Aiza Tonida puts out laundry amid the ruins of her parents home in Leyte province that was destroyed when Typhoon Haiyan struck central Philippines on November 8, 2013. Joey Reyna for The National

Filipinos seek Middle East jobs to rebuild lives after Haiyan

Work in the GCC seen as only hope for thousands left homeless and jobless after devastating storm in November.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National