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Toward a Smoke Free Tokyo Olympics

SNA (Tokyo) — Haruo Ozaki, Chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, calls for local governments to act against tobacco even if the national government continues to drag its feet.

Transcript

Haruo Ozaki: Do you know what causes the deaths of Japanese people? The Number One cause of death is tobacco.

The Tokyo Olympics are coming in 2020. As you know, we’ve made promises to the IOC and WHO that Tokyo was to become a tobacco free city before the Olympics. This has also been the case with other Olympics hosts ā€“ London, Brazil, Sochi, Beijing… They all adopted tobacco free policies. This was written into the law, but it’s looking like Japan alone will fail to do so. In January, the Health Ministry looked serious about it. They wanted to adopt a national anti-tobacco law, but, as you know, there was strong opposition from some LDP lawmakers, so the Health Minister backed away from the initiative.

This Diet session entirely failed to produce a bill, but they say they may still do it in the autumn. It may turn out to be impossible to pass an anti-tobacco law at the national level right now. However it’s still possible for Tokyo to pass its own local ordinance first and start this sort of movement. Of course, there are 47 prefectures in Japan, but Tokyo has strong influence, including a high population and strong economy. If Tokyo could adopt measures against tobacco, it may lead to other prefectures following suit. Like dominos across the nation, the rules for tobacco can change. Iā€™d like to see it advance this way. For example, Tokyo is making new rules, followed by nearby prefectures like Chiba. We are working with Governor Morita and the Chiba Medical Association along these lines. We may be able to create this wide anti-tobacco area around Tokyo. Kanagawa Prefecture too might adopt stricter regulations. So I’d like to see Tokyo adopt this kind of ordinance and then have it spread to the entire nation.

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