By Duncan Mackay

Japan ParliamentDecember 13 - Japan's Government has officially endorsed Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, claiming the event would symbolise recovery from a devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck this year.

The endorsement, which may be followed by the Government's financial guarantee, came after both chambers of Japan's Parliament - the Diet - passed resolutions supporting the bid.

Tokyo - which hosted Asia's first Olympics in 1964 but lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the bid for the 2016 Games - and five other candidate cities are due to submit their 2020 Games plans to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by February 25.

"Hosting the Olympics will have a great significance in promoting international friendship and sports," Masaharu Nakagawa, Japan's Culture and Sports Minister.

"It will also show our recovery from the Great East Japan earthquake.

"We will seize on every diplomatic opportunity to push the bid forward."

About 20,000 people were killed in the twin disasters in March, which also triggered a nuclear crisis at a power plant on the country's northeast coast.

"We are greatly encouraged," said Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, who chairs the Tokyo Bid Committee, of the Government's stamp of approval.

"Today's declaration of support from the Cabinet constitutes another major piece in the jigsaw and ensures that we will receive widespread support from both the public and private sectors as we strive to bring the Games to Tokyo in 2020.

"It will send a big message to the IOC."

Last week, both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors passed resolutions to provide their full cooperation and support to Tokyo's campaign.

Last month, the bid committee also launched the Tokyo 2020 Council, a Premium Advisory Board consisting of 64 members from the government, including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who serves as Supreme Advisor, and leading figures from Japan's business and sporting communities.

In endorsing the bid, the Government said that the Olympics, if hosted by Tokyo, should be "austere" and that they would cover expenses only when they are essential in view of the current economic crisis.

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