Tokyo gov. apologizes to Turkish envoy for remarks about Istanbul

Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose said Friday he apologized to Turkish Ambassador to Japan Serdar Kilic for remarks taken as criticizing rival 2020 Olympic bidder Istanbul.

Inose told a news conference that he visited the ambassador at the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday to apologize if he offended Turkish people with his remarks.

The envoy was quoted as saying that Turkey and Japan have a deep friendship and their countries could have presented a joint Olympic bid if they were geographically closer.

"The ambassador and I agreed to foster further friendship between (our nations) which have had close ties historically," said Inose, who chairs the Tokyo bid committee.

Inose also said a diplomatic corps comprising envoys of countries in the Middle East and North Africa will pay a courtesy call on the Tokyo metropolitan government headquarters soon.

"I would like to make our (forthcoming) meeting one that will deepen our friendship with Arab nations," Inose said.

In an interview with The New York Times last month during his U.S. trip, Inose said, "So, from time to time, like Brazil, I think it's good to have a venue for the first time. But Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes."

Inose later admitted his remarks were "inappropriate" and apologized.

Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid are vying for the right to host the 2020 Games, and the winner will be announced on Sept. 7 at the International Olympic Committee assembly in Buenos Aires.