‘Regrettable & unacceptable’: Japan’s Olympic minister blasts South Korean posters showing torch bearer in protective suit

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Japan’s minister for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Seiko Hashimoto has slammed South Korean posters dedicated to the upcoming Summer Games featuring a torch bearer wearing an anti-radiation suit.

“The use of such a poster is unacceptable,” Hashimoto said at a press conference on Friday adding that the creation of such pictures is “very regrettable.”

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A series of posters depicting an Olympic torch runner wearing a hazmat suit were produced by the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), a private group in South Korea who said they wanted to raise awareness about ecological issues in Japan.

The runner’s suit and green radioactive flame spewing from the torch apparently referred to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011 after a devastating 15-meter tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant causing high radioactive releases.

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The prefecture was included in the route of the Olympic Torch Relay with Japanese officials stating there would be no radiation threat to the relay participants.

“We included messages of warning about the safety of radiation, the biggest concern during the Tokyo Olympics,” the VANK said. “Host country Japan said agricultural products from Fukushima Prefecture are safe and announced that it will provide them for Olympic athletes.”

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Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government lodged complaints with South Korea regarding the posters which they found “unacceptable.”

Earlier this week Japanese officials said the deadly coronavirus outbreak would not affect the schedule of the upcoming Summer Games.

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