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Hopes for smoke-free Tokyo Olympics nearly snuffed out

Gov. Koike backtracks on tough rules after electoral drubbing by Abe

Tokyo lags behind other global cities when it comes to restricting smoking in public places.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan's capital has a reputation as a smoker's paradise, and despite the governor's tough talk of a crackdown, this looks unlikely to change much before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A campaign to make the games smoke-free is fizzling out, as Gov. Yuriko Koike backtracks on a pledge to introduce tougher restrictions than the central government. Medical experts are urging her to keep up the fight, but her ill-fated attempt to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in last fall's general election has left her nursing political wounds.

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