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Japan to Protest After French Paper Mocks Post-Disaster Olympics

Japan plans to complain to French satirical paper Le Canard Enchaine after it published cartoons poking fun at Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

One cartoon published in the Sept. 11 edition of the paper shows two emaciated sumo wrestlers with extra limbs battling it out with nuclear reactors in the background. The caption reads: “Thanks to Fukushima, sumo has become an Olympic sport.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe flew to Buenos Aires last weekend to give a final presentation to the International Olympic Committee, where Tokyo won the right to host the Games for the first time since 1964. The last few days of the campaign were dogged by questions about radioactive water leaking into the sea from the crippled Fukushima plant. Abe has vowed to resolve the issue before the Games.

The cartoon was “extremely regrettable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said today.

“This kind of cartoon hurts the feelings of those who suffered in the disaster and gives an incorrect impression of the problem of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant,” he told reporters in Tokyo.

Suga added that the government would complain to the magazine via the Japanese embassy in Paris and would instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discourage inappropriate media coverage of Japan in future.

Another cartoon in the paper showed what appeared to be a tank of contaminated water at the ruined nuclear plant. “We have already built our Olympic swimming pool at Fukushima,” reads the caption.

To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at; Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at

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