Dream On

“Fukushima was almost 200 miles away from Tokyo, and yet Tokyo soil in some places, the ones I just happened to find, would qualify as radioactive waste here in the United States.”

If the image above has any resemblance to another poster, it is completely random coincidence. As UN researchers on the effects of radiation might say, correlation is not evidence of causation. All I want to point out with the design is the fact that according to safety standards of the nuclear industry itself, Tokyo should be considered a “candidate city” for radiological decontamination, and a reasonable completion date might be, let’s say, 2020, but the sooner the better.
Yet of course, this is not going to happen because the Japanese government is busy promoting feel-good projects such as the 2020 Olympic bid as a strategy for making the world forget about radiological contamination and the crushing national debt.
If it was somewhat possible in the past to disagree respectfully and have some amount of sympathy for the difficult challenges the government has had to handle in the Fukushima catastrophe, this sentiment is completely gone now. Lately, the actions and policies of government have become just downright pitiful and embarrassing. One can only feel sorry for the people represented by this government. It has become like the drunk uncle at a family gathering whose antics and ravings just make everyone want to head quietly for the exits.
A case in point is this poster released this week as advertising for the Olympic bid. The anonymous Japanese blogger at ex-skf.blogspot.com translated it thus:

Right now, Nippon
needs the power of this dream.
Olympics and Paralympics give us a dream.
A dream gives us power.
Power builds our future.
We need this power right now.
To be as one.
To be strong.
Let's tell the world how strong Japan is.
Because we're sure the world will be encouraged.
Ex-skf makes the important point that there is nothing lost in translation here. The original text is just as ungrammatical and childish as the English version. It is described as “arrogant gibberish” which “Even the Japanese are dismayed at… It reads like fluffy TV commercial copy by the nation's top ad agency.
The poster naturally invited ridicule and parody. One anonymous commenter wrote:

Right now, Nippon
needs the power of this delusion.
Olympics and Paralympics give us a delusion.
A delusion gives us false confidence.
False confidence builds our future.
We need this false confidence right now.
To be as none.
To be wrong.
Let's tell the world how wrong Japan is.
Because we're sure the world will be discouraged.
Now, let's [have] 2920 Olympics/Paralympics in Nippon! (It should be safe by then)

It’s interesting to note as well the company that Tokyo is keeping with its Olympic bid. The two other cities that made the cut as candidate cities in the competition (to be decided in September, 2013) are Madrid and Istanbul. These days it is difficult to think of a city or country that has the economic vitality to afford the Olympics, but there are places more qualified than the three that volunteered to join the race. Joining the ranks of Olympic game hosts may be something like joining a nerdish high school club now, ranking in coolness along with wanting to host a World Fair (Did anyone notice the 2012 Expo in Yeosu, South Korea?) The world has moved on. The more democratic and thriving nations, like the Scandinavian countries, are not interested because a bid would not be popular with voters, and those democracies do a better job of satisfying their citizens' wishes and needs.
The London Olympics seemed to put an end to the myth of economic stimulus coming from the games. As much as there are construction jobs, tourists, and increased confidence, these are offset by the negatives of real estate speculation, price gouging, debt, and letdown after the games. Larry Elliot, the economics editor of The Guardian wrote during the London games:

A week in and expectations of a major boost to growth are rapidly being downgraded. There are certainly plenty of overseas tourists in London, but the capital always has lots of foreign visitors at this time of year. Net tourism would be down if the number of potential visitors deterred by horror stories about gridlock and fears about being ripped off exceeded the numbers coming to London for the judo, athletics and beach volleyball. Evidence of half-full hotels suggests this may be the case… Britons appear to be giving London a miss. Some employees have been told to work from home for the duration of the Games, where the temptation to channel surf … may not do wonders for their productivity. In addition, shopping trips to central London appear to have been put on hold, contributing to the stories of empty shops, while the wet weather has led to a last-minute increase in sales of foreign holidays.

After a little more than a century of the modern games, the world seems to be tiring of the spectacle, and the prize is left for the latecomers who haven’t noticed that the world has moved on. I have to wonder if the smart money in the world is snickering privately at this losers’ race. Have at it Istanbul, Madrid, and Tokyo. Knock yourselves out. Everyone else who is still interested will stay home and watch on their widescreen TVs.
A Wikipedia page on the 2020 bids and candidate cities indicates that Toronto, and several other cities that considered bids, withdrew with the global financial crisis cited as the impediment. It’s strange that the three candidate cities didn’t have the same reservations because their economic data is much more dire than that of some of the cities that pulled out.
Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are lovingly referred to as the PIGS group by their northern neighbors for the wreckage they have caused to the Eurozone. It’s a mystery that Spain can spend money on an Olympics bid after receiving billions of bailout euros. Turkey has a per capita GDP only half that of Japan, and it may soon be dragged into the proxy war of Russia + Iran vs. Israel + the West - the conflict more commonly known as the troubles in Syria. Japan has a horrific debt to GDP ratio that will lead to eventual default, and it should feel a moral obligation to give direct aid (not wishful economic stimulus schemes) to the victims of the triple disaster. With the land in a period of increased seismic activity, and the political establishment staggering toward nuclear plant restarts and a showdown with China, it’s a gamble for the IOC to think Tokyo could be a competent host in 2020.
I’d bet that Tokyo and Madrid are throwing money down a hole because as long as Istanbul can put together a decent proposal, the IOC is likely to think it’s time for an Islamic country to host the games. Until September, I’m hoping that the IOC will do us a favor and pass on Tokyo. This country has enough to suffer through without seven more years of inane, vacuous boosterism.

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