Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Thank You, the International Olympic Committee You Provided Japan With Good Opportunities
HANABUSA Masamichi  / Former Japanese Ambassador to Italy

September 25, 2013
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Tokyo to host the Summer Olympic/Paralympic Games in 2020. The megalopolis has undergone considerable changes in the past half-century. Yet the world is not sufficiently aware that Tokyo is now one of the most highly-modernized, convenient, clean and safe cities in the world; slow and gradual changes seldom make big media headlines. The choice of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics is most appropriate from the angle of showing Tokyo to the eyes of many visitors. If good impressions are gained and established for Tokyo, we will regain self-confidence. Given a common goal, the Japanese could get united and exert themselves remarkably. It is very fortunate that Japan has been given this goal.

For a quarter of a century since the land-speculation bubbles busted in the 90s , Japan, even though she still is one of the world's foremost economic giants, has stayed stagnant and the Japanese became diffident, partly due to recurring financial crises coming across the Pacific and partly due to strong deflation pressures arising from the low labor cost in China. On top of it the portentous earthquake and tsunami hit Japan two years ago. As the result the Japanese society presently lacks dreams. Among the most badly affected are weak segments of the society such as youths and the handicapped. Since the IOC's decision their athletes are already heartened, for the Olympic Games are for the youth and the Paralympic Games for the handicapped.

Japan should not, however, be content solely with leading the 2020 Games to success as a big sports event. The hosting of Olympic/Paralympic Games in Tokyo provides the hosting city and the hosting nation with good opportunities to show the world how we try to solve various problems with which this aging, population-decreasing, low growth and overly convenient society is faced. Probably these will be the same problems many advanced nations of the world are bound to be faced with sooner or later. The following are, in my view, major issues and problems Japan should address itself seriously as Tokyo awaits the Olympics in 2020.

First and foremost, Japan must secure safety of the Atomic Power Station at Fukushima which was destroyed by the Great Tsunami of 2011. As assured by Prime Minister Abe in Buenos Aires, air and oceanic contamination is very much limited. The situation will basically remain so in the future. We should not forget, nevertheless, that we have not yet found any sure solution to the question of radiation-contaminated water leaking into the sea. The assurance of safety given by Prime Minister Abe preceding the IOC decision is not a promise given by a prime minister but the acceptance of Japan, as a nation, of the solemn obligation on its honor to make the best possible efforts in that direction. Fear of radiation, which is invisible, is difficult to overcome. The Japanese Government is obligated to provide honest and sufficient information, among others, about oceanic contamination around Japan.

Secondly, the hosting of the Olympics 7 years from now should not further promote the tendency in Japan for urbanization and for the centralization into Tokyo. The Japanese society is beset with various problems arising from the aging and decreasing of population. The Great Earthquake 2 years ago disclosed that as the result of impatient pursuit of speed and convenience, Japan suffers from ills of mass-consumption, excessive urbanization and extravagant use of energy resources. As the world's resources are limited, the lessons we have learnt had better be shared by the rest of the world. We should be fully mindful of this and try to set precedents for the future world; for this reason I believe, for example, that in view of the coming to Japan of many visitors in conjunction with the 2020 Olympics, in addition to omotenashi, good hospitality, the symbol of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics must be the completion of barrier-free facilities in major Japanese cities rather than the construction of linear high-speed transportation.

Thirdly, as the previous 1964 Olympics in Tokyo opened the way for the war-beaten Japanese to face squarely with the world again, so the forthcoming Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 must be an occasion for Japan to open up much further to the world. The opening-up process has been rather slow in Japan for the past 50 years. It is desirable that we will take advantage of this chance to alter the "inward-looking" mentality, lifestyle and behavior of the Japanese people.

Fourthly, Japan needs to improve its relations with its neighbors. At the moment, Japan's relations with its four next-door neighboring countries, namely, China, ROK, North Korea and Russia are unfortunately much to be desired. This is extraordinary. Japan must stop solely blaming others for the moment and frankly ponder if this situation can be left unchanged even 7 years from now. I saw an editorial in a Japanese newspaper which says: "the Japanese character may be honest and cooperative and considerate even to minute details but the same character is back-to-back with the exclusive mentality. Hosting the Olympics in Tokyo, we should not fall into this pitfalls but be mindful of the need to get along well with other peoples." I entirely share this view. Nationalistic sentiments seem to be on the rise in Japan, as many Japanese feel resentful of unreasonable criticisms from our two important neighbors, China and ROK. But we must bear in mind that even good nationalism is fraught with narrow-mindedness. It is incumbent on the Japanese leaders to exert their utmost to solve decade-long bickerings with our neighbors in the spirit of mutual concession. It would require an inordinate extent of wisdom and self-restraint on the part of Japanese leaders to resolve thorny issues with our neighbors step by step in a virtuous circle. But I am convinced that it must be done.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics should not be utilized simply to raise Japan's standings but turn itself into a good opportunity for Japan to address above-mentioned issues. For a long time we scarcely have had the heartening feeling of "awaiting something anxiously" or "looking forward to something." The hosting of the Olympic/Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 has given us Japanese such uplifting sentiment, for which I am deeply grateful to the International Olympic Committee. Now the rest is for us to address responding to the trust of the IOC.

Masamichi Hanabusa is Chairman Emeritus of the ESUJ.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

国際オリンピック委員会有難う 東京開催が日本に齎した好機
英 正道  / 元駐伊大使

2013年 9月 25日
国際オリンピック委員会が2020年の夏季オリンピック/パラリンピックの開催地として東京を選んだ。この巨大都市はこの半世紀の間に大きな変貌を遂げている。近代化されて利便性に富み、清潔で安全な東京はまだ世界に十分に認識されているとは言えない。緩慢な変化はニュースにならないからである。オリンピックを開催することは東京の再評価の良い機会としても適切で、好評価が得られれば日本人全体に自信を取り戻させるかもしれない。何よりも一つ の目標に向けて国民が力を結集する時に日本は際立った力を発揮する国民性である。その機会を得たことは幸運である。

90年代に日本で土地投機に由来するバブルが弾けて以来四半世紀、太平洋を越えて来た幾度かの金融危機、中国からの低賃金に由来する深刻なデフレ圧力、それに追い打ちを掛けた二年前の未曾有の大地震と津波のため、日本経済は世界の主要経済国でありながら、基調として完全に低迷し、日本人は自信を 失った。その結果日本社会には夢が失われている。最も否定的な影響を受けているのは若年層と障害を持つ社会的な弱者たちである。オリンピックは若者の祭典であり、パラリンピックは障害者の祭典である。既に東京開催が多くの若者や障碍者アスリート達に夢と希望を灯したように見える。



 第二の問題はそれでなくても都市化、それも東京への一極集中傾向のある日本で、七年先の東京開催でこの傾向がさらに進むことを何としてでも阻止しなければならないことである。日本社会は、高齢化と人口の減少傾向に伴う諸問題に加えて、2年前の大震災は、利便性やスピードの過度の追求の結果、日本社 会には行き過ぎた大量消費、都市化、エネルギー資源の無駄使いの問題が生まれていることを露呈した。資源の有限性を前提とすると、これらの問題は間も無く世界全体が直面する問題でもある。日本人はオリンピックに浮かれてこのことを忘れてはならない。例えば私は「おもてなし」精神も良いけれども、多くの外国人がオリンピックの機会に日本を訪れることを考えると、2020年のオリンピックの象徴としては、リニア高速鉄道建設よりも日本の主要都市におけるバリア フリー施設の充実の方が相応しいと考える。




一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Thank You, the International Olympic Committee You Provided Japan With Good Opportunities