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Prime minister to lead Tokyo group at Olympic vote

August 23, 2013

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will lead Tokyo’s delegation to Argentina for the Sept. 7 vote on the host city of the 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo is competing against Istanbul and Madrid. Prime Ministers Mariano Rajoy of Spain and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey also are expected to attend.

Abe spoke to more than 800 supporters at the send-off ceremony for bid members, confirming his plans to be in Buenos Aires and adding he is “hopeful” Tokyo will win.

Tokyo enters the final days of the campaign facing concern over a leak of highly radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

About 300 tons of contaminated water was found to have leaked from one of the tanks at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Monday. The leak is the fifth, and the worst, since last year. But Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose said it does not pose a threat to Olympic plans.

“Regarding food and water in Tokyo there is absolute safety and the data is available,” Inose said. “As far as hosting the games, the situation in Fukushima will not affect Tokyo.”

Inose said radiation levels in Tokyo are the same as those in London, Paris and New York. Fukushima is 155 miles north of Tokyo.

The plant had multiple meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The “major accident” was the worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

Japan is pledging tighter nuclear safety. Most of Japan’s nuclear plants remain closed after they were shut for safety checks following the Fukushima disaster.

Update hourly