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Tokyo governor resigns; PM assures no Olympic impact

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose (R) leaves a news conference at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office in Tokyo December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Ka
Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose (R) leaves a news conference at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office in Tokyo December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Ka

TOKYO (Reuters) - The governor of the Japanese capital resigned on Thursday after being caught up in a financial scandal just three months after he helped his city win a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan remained committed to offering the best games and the resignation of Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose would have no impact on that.

Inose, an author turned politician who took over as boss of the capital about a year ago, was forced to resign after he received 50 million yen ($484,500) from scandal-hit hospital chain Tokushukai ahead of an election.

His explanation for the nature of the money and other details flip-flopped, drawing the focus of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly despite other pressing issues such as a budget plan for next fiscal year and Olympic preparations.

"I cannot get in the way of preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, where national pride will be at stake," Inose told a news conference. "I decided that there is no way but my quitting as Tokyo governor to break the stalemate."

"I feel very sorry for the people in Tokyo and Japan. Let me offer my sincere apologies," he said, bowing deeply.

Abe, who worked with Inose to win the bid for 2020, said his resignation should have no impact on the games.

"Everyone shares the intention to host the best Olympic Games. That remains unchanged. I don't see any impact," Abe told reporters.

An election to select Inose's successor will likely be held in February, media said.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Rodney Joyce; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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