#tokyo2020

Terrorism strikes Tokyo

Japan and terrorism tend to be though of as mutually exclusive terms. Not so. The lady pictured above, Fusako Shigenobu, was the founder of the Japanese Red Army who masterminded countless hijackings and shot up Lod International Airport. Back in March 2016, CM wrote a report on terrorism in The land of the rising sun.

On this New Years Eve, a Japanese man, Kazuhiro Kusakabe, sought revenge over the execution of members of the Aum Shinrikyo, a cult which will live in infamy over the Tokyo Subway sarin attack,

He has apparently admitted he wanted to set the car alight with 20 liters of kerosene (he doused himself as well) but if that failed he wanted to run down people in the often crowded Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, It is a narrow street with little way of escape so had he managed to get going the damage would have been unspeakable.

As Japan faces the Rugby World Cup this year followed by the Summer Olympic Games in 2020, it appears poorly prepared to counter terrorist threats. Japan’s airports are perhaps the softest targets as the 2016 report noted.

The Tokyo Olympics is already being touted as the “omotenashi” (polite/courteous) games. The last time a country tried to approach an Olympiad with visible softness with respect to security was Munich in 1972. That tragedy left 11 Israeli athletes and one German police officer dead and another seriously wounded in crossfire because of the amateur hour siege at Furstenfeldbruck.

Japan is putting together an 80 member all female riot squad. They’d be better off fielding 80 sumo wrestlers to show they were serious. The Tokyo Met Police might site they are using smart technologies (eg facial recognition) but there is little sign of putting together a visible special forces unit should serious trouble ensue.

If terrorists wanted a soft global target to get maximum exposure, 2020 is perhaps their best bet. Security companies Alsok & Secom may brag about their protective credentials but the reality is their upside is zero and downside unlimited if terrorist acts are committed.

A sad way to begin the New Year. Japan mustn’t look backwards but focus on how they can avoid trouble at two major global events.

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.

Tokyo’s Iron Lady preparing a wrecking ball

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PM Abe may have more than met his match. It seems Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike could win the support of defections from the flailing Democratic Party of Japan. They are considering running no candidates under their own banner but under hers – The Party of Hope (Kibo no To). Koike isn’t playing by the rules and PM Abe’s wish to hold a snap election knowingly ceding seats so he could keep a majority may end up backfiring. She has next to nothing to lose and she represents a  “fresh” scandal-less face to the electorate. She is on a wave. Abe’s majority under threat.

Think of it this way. The LDP is embarking on a strategy that seeks to take some losses. In a sense they are openly conceding it is all about clinging to power. Hardly a promising election strategy. The slew of scandals (two with the PM himself) works to Koike’s favour in appealing to those that see her as a reboot to the decades of LDP cronyism.  Still early days but the momentum is almost tsunami like. Drain the swamp?

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.