Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike will push for a law banning smoking in public places, to make the Japanese capital smoke-free ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, media said, defying national politicians who failed to pass a similar law this spring.
Tokyo risks being one of the unhealthiest cities to host the Olympics in years, but efforts for a national ban died in the face of opposition from pro-smoking politicians – many in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party – as well as restaurateurs and Japan Tobacco, which is one-third government-owned and paid the state $700 million in dividends in 2015.
Although passive smoking kills thousands of Japanese each year, the Health Ministry’s watered-down proposal – which would have allowed indoor smoking in smaller establishments with adequate ventilation – could not make it to a vote in parliament this spring.
Koike, her hand strengthened by a sweeping victory over Abe’s party in weekend local elections, told the Nikkei Shimbun daily that a law banning indoor smoking could be submitted to the assembly, where her party and allies now have a strong majority, for a vote as soon as this autumn.
“The country is slow, but we will carry out our duty as the host city,” the paper quoted Koike as saying.