Koji Murofushi has emphasised the importance of the Paralympic Games ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020's sports director Koji Murofushi has said the Paralympics are "just as important" for the Japanese capital as the Olympic Games.

The 44-year-old, who won Olympic gold for Japan in the hammer throw at Athens 2004, made the assertion while visiting the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

He was attending a panel session called "Olympism and Asia Pacific: Mutual Influence" which also included representatives from South Korea and China.

"We can state that we are almost ready for the Paralympic Games," Murofushi said, according to Russia's state news agency TASS.

"Almost all infrastructure and facilities are ready for people with disabilities, at around 95 per cent. 

"For us, the Paralympic Games are as important as the Olympic Games. 

"We want to invite as many friends as possible from Russia, China and South Korea to the Games."

The panel session was part of the fifth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Paralympics from August 25 ©Getty Images
Tokyo will host the 2020 Paralympics from August 25 ©Getty Images

Murofushi's reference to South Korea comes at a time when the country's relationship with Japan is under increased strain.

A goods war has developed between the historical rivals, with both countries restricting the other's products in a series of retaliatory measures.

The dispute has spilled over into the sporting world, with South Korea threatening to review their Tokyo 2020 training camp plans in disaster-hit Fukushima due to fears over "radioactivity".

They have also raised concerns about food from Fukushima - the location of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 which caused an accident at a nuclear power plant - being served at the Games, as well as Japan's use of the Rising Sun flag which they claim is linked to an imperial past.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will take place between August 25 and September 6, following the Olympics between July 24 and August 9.