#2020olympics

Imperial Palace opened for the autumn leaves

While we should pity the fact that the 84yo Emperor is not allowed to step down before April 2019, His Excellency can still wake up to this natural beauty in the back yard. 10,000s of people there but another 10,000 police doing checks. Having said that while the high police presence is visible the level of checks is still extremely soft. I honestly worry about the 2020 Olympics being a soft target for terrorism as described in this report   平和ボケ

Zero CO2 emissions at Tokyo Olympics for 4 days during ceremonies

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Fresh after her drubbing in the elections over the weekend Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is proposing zero CO2 emissions during the 4 days of 2020 Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic ceremonies. Presumably the trains to transport passengers to the stadium will be shut down as they’re powered by gas fired electricity while hepa filter gas masks will be distributed to every foreign visitor and Tokyo resident to ensure the goal can be met. People won’t be able to drive nor eat in restaurants that cook with gas or electricity and diners mustn’t eat because they’d be breathing CO2 between bites.

Hang on how is she going to justify the Olympic flame? Or the fireworks at the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics? More CO2!

More green madness.

For a supposed populist right winger she’s leaning to be a lefty in pretty short order. That is a great shame and for all the antiestablishment rhetoric she’s more mainstream than the establishment.

Death from overwork on the Tokyo Olympic Stadium

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After the first stadium was rejected for its exorbitant cost, the ‘budget’ conscious stadium started 14 months later than anticipated. Due to the delay, work on the new stadium has caused another scandal – excessive overtime. One worker has taken his life after logs showing he had worked over 211hrs of overtime in a month. One shift saw the worker start at 6:30am and finish up 26 hours later. One wonders what will turn it? If Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike offers a glib apology what hope is there of reform? The punishment for Dentsu (who saw a worker commit suicide) was it wasn’t allowed to apply for any Tokyo government ad contracts for one month.

While the advent of Premium Friday (workers can knock off at 3pm on the last Friday of each month) is a positive step forward and having employees clock on & off makes sense, there is a deep seated cultural problem of not wanting to become an outcast within a company. Although the The Japan Institute of Labour Policy & Training reports that since 2002 bullying and harassment claims to the Labor Tribunal have soared from under 6% to over 20% at the same time total disputes have trebled to over 300,000 annually. One worker from Olympus complained his bosses were being unethical by poaching many of a contractors staff. His punishment was demotion among other humiliation. In order to avoid being unfairly treated, people are using the ‘-hara’ (pawa-hara = power harassment, seku-hara = sexual harassment, mata-hara = maternity harassment) route to their advantage as the following charts show.

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For corporates in Japan, the government is the leader. It took PM Koizumi some 15 years ago to introduce the ‘Cool Biz’ concept (removal of neckties in the middle of sweltering summer during a period of power conservation) because corporations didn’t want to risk being the odd one out.

However there are exceptions. One company in Japan has a very open approach to hiring and paying its staff top rates that are based on performance. Staff are willing to work long hours because inputs have transparent outputs. Instead of getting one or two months pay twice a year like many Japanese corporates offer no matter how ordinary the real performance is this company has employees who think, according to one, “like working in heaven.” Simple – they are paid for their abilities and the trappings of that success are indeed visible.

2024 Olympic bidders now a two horse race

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It seems that now that Budapest (Hungary) has pulled out of the 2024 Olympic bid meaning Paris & LA are the only ones to remain in the hunt. While many countries go out of their way spending small fortunes on ingratiating themselves with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), 260,000 signatures called for the bid to be halted and the money redirected at hospitals and schools. Is this yet another signal of restless natives getting fed up with the misallocation of state resources to boost egos not services?

It makes perfect sense. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are becoming a laughing stock in terms of massive cost overruns, stadium and logo redesigns and proposals to locate some events in pre-existing facilities outside of the Tokyo metro. Of course the IOC in all of its greed wants to impose its will to ensure that money is spent on brand new facilities with no hope of future return (just exorbitant cost to the taxpayer in ongoing maintenance) to the host city in which will selfihsly boost their income with little consideration for citizens. We can only imagine the type of pandering, entertainment and gift giving to IOC officials that goes on to secure a bid.

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To give an idea on how scrimp and save the Tokyo Olympics is becoming the city went on a drive last week to collect people’s old mobile phones to raid them for gold extraction. Now I am not sure how many mobile phones are required to make one gold plated medal but surely the drive sounds more like people turning in pots and pans during the war to be turned into munitions. While I can see the merit of people recycling unused materials I can’t see this being a game changer. Tokyo itself is still financially very sound (refer Figs 17-28 of the link) but the groans of waste and overly generous contracts is growing louder.

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We can see the state of disrepair after the Rio Olympics. The vast investment which went in now will require huge financial inputs just to maintain it. They’ve forgone that. I doubt Tokyo would ever let its infrastructure fall into such a state but for a country struggling to pay off huge debts and rescue its parlous finances (Tokyo excluded), this Olympics frolic looks like a bad idea. After the debacle over the logo, the ripping up of the original stadium which was then replaced by one made partially from wood (where a naked flame will burn for two weeks) and the continuous cost overruns Tokyo should not have bothered.

It is clear that the Olympic bidding wars of late are a good tell tale sign of how citizens are wanting their governments to fix their financial problems rather than spend up big on a party which will give temporary illusions of grandeur. Japan has enough attractions in and of itself to require an Olympics to push tourism. Many more citizens in Tokyo are no doubt questioning why they bothered to spend all this money. Japan does not have the deep sporting culture to justify the erection of massive stadiums to the scale intended to sustain 40,000 audiences every week.

Await the herd of white elephants in Tokyo. Let us not underestimate the example of the Hungarians to reject government waste and focus on turning the economy into a position of sustainable growth rather than pet public projects to give the illusion that unemployment is falling and GDP is expanding. Perhaps the world’s governments should nominate parliament members for the 100m kick the can down the road race.