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Hi Blog. Once again hosting an international event brings out the worst excesses of Japan’s attitudes towards the outside world. Mutou Toshio, CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, talked to The Japan Times about Japan’s superiority to Rio 2016 in broad, arrogant strokes.
Article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/04/national/2020-tokyo-olympics-ceo-weighs-security-differences-rio/
The CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics says security is his greatest concern but believes Japan will be safe from the kind of mass street protests currently overshadowing this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
“If I had to choose just one challenge from many it would have to be security,” Toshiro Muto told The Japan Times in an exclusive interview. “There are many threats of terrorism in the world. […] To combat this, the organizing committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and national government need to be able to deal with it at every level. Cooperation is vital.”
Yes, we’ve seen what happens when Japan’s police “cooperate” to ensure Japan is “secure” from the outside world whenever it comes for a visit. Many times. Consider whenever a G8 Summit is held in Japan, Japan spends the Lion’s Share (far more than half the budget) on policing alone, far more than any other G8 Summit host. Same with, for example, the 2002 World Cup. The government also quickly abrogates civil liberties for its citizens and residents, and turns Japan into a temporary police state. (See also “Embedded Racism” Ch. 5, particularly pp. 148-52). I anticipate the same happening for 2020, with relish.
But Mutou goes beyond mere boosterism to really earn his paycheck with arrogance, elevating Japan by bashing current hosts Rio. (Much like Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki, himself since unseated due to corruption, did in 2013 when denigrating Olympic rival hosts Istanbul as “Islamic”.) Check this out:
The Olympics have proved to be a lightning rod for demonstrations in recession-hit Brazil, with many people angry at the billions of public dollars being spent on the event.
But Muto, a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, is confident that Tokyo can avoid similar scenes despite public concern over the cost of hosting the Olympics.
“The demonstrations in Brazil are down to the fact that the economy is in great difficulty and the government is in trouble,” he said. “At times like that, there are bigger things to think about than a sports festival.
“I don’t think that kind of problem will occur in Japan. Of course you never know what will happen, but I think the environment in Brazil and Tokyo is completely different.”
Yes, unlike that country with its beleaguered economy and unruly population, Japan’s economy is doing so well. It is, after all, the only developed country whose economy SHRANK between 1993 and 2011 (Sources: IMF; “Embedded Racism” p. 291). Like Mutou says, there ARE bigger things to think about than a sports festival. Like, for example, regional assistance for the recovery from the triple disasters of 2011?
On that point, Mutou begins “talking up the yen” in terms of the potential economic impact of the 2020 Olympics:
“If you look at it in isolation, labor costs have started to rise recently and I understand that could have a negative effect on recovery,” Muto said. “But I think a successful Olympics will help people in the affected areas.
“Until very recently, there were around 8 million foreign tourists visiting Japan a year. In 2015 it rose to almost 20 million. The government thinks around 40 million tourists will visit in 2020. Those people will not only visit Tokyo but places all around the country. In the areas affected by the disaster there are various tourist spots, so it should have a beneficial effect.”
Yes, I’m sure people will be flocking to Fukushima and environs to see the tens of thousands of people still living in temporary housing more than five years after the disasters.
Finally, the article concludes with a word salad of slogans from Mutou:
“In the future, if the Olympics cost huge sums of money to stage, it will place a big burden on the people of that country. If that happens, more and more people will speak out against it. It’s not appropriate to have an extravagant Olympics. If it’s an Olympics that avoids wasting money, then I believe it can contribute toward peace.”
Given that even the JT article acknowledges the Olympian waste of money by reporting: “[T]he games have nonetheless been accused of gobbling up public funds and slowing the pace of recovery in the areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. […] French prosecutors investigating corruption allegations into the former head of world athletics last month expanded their probe to examine the bidding for Tokyo 2020,” it’s a bit rich for Mutou to conclude with yet another pat “peace” mantra, while ignoring his previous sentences on the burdens being put on the people of that country.
May the French prosecutors uncover something untoward and finally get this society-destroying jingoistic nonsense to stop. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Full article at:
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10 comments on “JT Interview: Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Mutou picks on Rio 2016, arrogantly cites “safe Japan” mantra vs international terrorism”
Great thread Dr. Debito!
What Mutou is actually saying (although I suspect it is 100% subconscious projection) is that the similarities between Rio and Tokyo are striking and many, and thanks to better government media suppression and propaganda, along with more suspension of human rights and police enforcement, will enable the J-elites to avoid any Rio style civil discontent from showing itself, thereby preserving some myths of Japanese national identity.
Kind of getting like North Korea. Orwellian double-speak trumps daily reality every time.
I thought this was typical J – bragging –
1. “You think the Olympics is about sports, but it is really about safety.”
2. “Compared to Istanbul & Rio, Japan is safe, and does not have religious or economic trouble.”
3. “Therefore, Tokyo Olympics will be the best.”
All wrapped up in typical J-logic:
1. Safety is better. 2. Japan is safe. Therefore Japan / Japanese people / Japanese culture is superior.
Just another Japanese leader telling the world how wonderful / superior Japan is. Nothing new.
Meanwhile, one wonders if the actual stadium will be completed on time.
“Of course it has no outside walls – what do you think omotenashi means?”
Agreed, the whole thing reeks of arrogance.
@ Dude, but Japan is not safe. Just a different kind of danger from, say, the worse parts of L.A.
Japan was safe(r) in the 70s or 80s maybe but in usual postmodern style they are using an outdated map to describe (prescribe) their (denial of) reality.
Yep. His narcissistic professionalism is a powerful force for perpetuation of Japan Inc establishment. Is it any wonder to see J-elites like him preaching for national prosperity under the facade of globaloney?
Oh I came up with an alternative title on the thread: “What’s the Matter With the People Under the Sun?”
@ Baudrillard #4,
I think you’ve brought up an important point about how Japan makes worthless comparisons by comparing its best with the other’s worst (and the “best” and “worst” are also already defined through a Japanese filter).
Andrew, In Japan’s “defence”, if you were from a basically unsafe and geologically unsound country you would probably 1. be obsessed with “safety” 2. place “strong/traditional govt” about human rights and 3. try to put a positive spin on it to avoid panicking your own population and scaring away foreign investors or tourists. 4. Basically get used to it and be unfazed by natural disasters or well, anything- youd become quite insular and jaded.
5. youd become a control freak and become obsessed with neatness, almost as if a slight change would offend the nature gods that have so far spared you.
OK, maybe I am going too far with #4 but its arguably a subconscious tradition, and even Ishihara and Mori have unwittingly bought into these pagan beliefs, as revealed in various very non PC speeches they have given.
But the irony is that disasters still happen in Japan, despite the obsession with safety..
Baudrillard – point taken.
But This is all they have to work with. “Japan is safe, foreign countries are not safe” is really all they have left.
Whether it is true or not is secondary. If the right people say it enough, it becomes the narrative.
For those of you living in Japan: If you tell a Japanese person you like Japan because it is so safe, you will find everyone agreeing with you. Funny experiment, if you have the time.
— That works for just about all conversations about Japan anywhere, whether or not you talk to a Japanese person. The narrative is that strong and well-maintained.
@ Dude and Debito, I m disappointed as I thought after Fukushima the old “Safety country” mantra had been laid to rest, and for a couple of years it did seem to disappear from the narrative.
But then throwback Abe gets elected and brings it back for the Olympic bid, in complete denial of reality.
I had neglected Japan’s capacity for living in complete denial of reality. Or wishful thinking back to the “good old days” be it the 80s or the pre war era.
Having said that, Fukushima is still a good one word comeback to counter any spurious “safety Country” claims, without having to go into energy burning and pointless arguments.
And how about “Food Safety”?
What “Safety Japan” really means is the (comparatively) low violent crime rate or gun crime, although even this is disputable, of course.
1. Fukushima (to the true believers) was
– a fluke,
– caused by foreign generators failing,
and has nothing to do with Japan being the safest place on earth.
2. Poison gyoza (among other food) came from China. Any problems with food in Japan that is unsafe is played down. Any problems with imported food is played up.
Gravity is not even in Japan. “They” control the narrative. Even when the facts are known to disprove the narrative…