By Nick Butler

Six officials visited the Prime Minister's official residence in order to meet Shinzo Abe ©WKFJapanese officials have met with the country's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in order to boost karate's efforts to be included at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The six-strong delegation - which included Japan Karate Federation (JKF) President Takashi Sasagawa, World Karate Federation (WKF) general secretary Toshihisa Nagura and All-Party Parliamentary Federation for the Promotion of Karatedo chairman Yoshihide Suga - visited the Prime Ministerial residence in Tokyo to converse with Abe.

In a meeting described as "fruitful and congenial", the group explained the attractions and advantages of the sport's inclusion at the Games in six years time, before outlining recent efforts to promote the sport throughout the host nation.

They also presented a letter, signed by Suga, explaining the recent opportunities and achievements engineered, before respectfully urging Abe to "submit a petition to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan Olympic Committee for the inclusion of Karatedo, our traditional martial art, as an official sport at the coming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics".

The officials discussed the state of the sport with Prime Minister Abe ©WKFThe officials discussed the state of the sport with Prime Minister Abe ©WKF

Like many other sports, karate has been boosted by the IOC's recent acceptance of Agenda 2020 proposals for a more flexible sports programme, which included the lifting of the 28-sport cap on the programme.

Although practical repercussions of these changes are still unclear, and there is no definite timeline for new sports being considered, baseball and softball are seen as the most likely additions in Tokyo, due to the sports' huge popularity in Japan.

Karate, along with the likes of squash and skateboarding, are others with serious aspirations, with a petition calling for karate's inclusion, signed by Sasagawa and WKF President Antonio Espinós, having garnered over 17,000 signatures.

Following the latest meeting, Prime Minister Abe said he was "pleased" to hear from the officials and "understood the situation very well".

A copy of the letter sent to the leader can be seen here, while details on how to sign the petition are available here