Tokyo’s tasks before the Olympics

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Tokyo’s tasks before the Olympics

Tokyo has been chosen as the host city of the 2020 Summer Games, beating out Madrid and Istanbul.

Members of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires had to consider contaminated water from the crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima, Madrid’s economic woes and Istanbul’s escalating political insecurity. Despite the drawbacks connected with all the cities, the IOC selected Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, considering its strengths in financial solidity, security and infrastructure. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to address nuclear safety concerns also contributed to the city’s second staging of the games.

We welcome the decision and hope the Olympics are a success. By the IOC’s decision, Japan has become the first country in Asia to hold the summer games twice. It is also significant that the Tokyo games come two years after the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. We hope the Tokyo Olympics contribute to Japan’s recovery from its decades-old economic slump and a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

But there are many things Japan has to do before the opening day of the Olympics.

Above all, Japan should dispel all the worries about contaminated water seepage. Even after our government expanded its import ban on fish products from areas near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, Koreans’ safety concerns have not subsided because they extend to agricultural and manufactured products as well. Japan must regain its reputation, which it proudly wore, as an impeccable master of safety.

Despite the distinction between sports and politics, we cannot deny that they are interconnected. Some pundits in Korea have already raised concerns about the possibility that the Abe cabinet’s nationalistic inclinations will be reinforced after Tokyo’s successful bid for the Olympic Games. Japan must stop escalating conflicts and tensions with its neighbors over territorial and historical issues.

If Japan sparks a limited war over territorial disputes, it will dampen the Olympic spirit. Even at the recent G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, relations between the leader of Japan and those of Korea and China were icy cold. When the pro-Seoul Federation of Korean Residents in Japan issued a statement welcoming Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympic Games, a local ultra-right group resumed the anti-Korean campaigns it had refrained from for a while. We hope the Japanese government makes sincere efforts to bring those noisy groups under control.

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