The Tokyo Olympics will progress according to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. Construction of new stadiums will be minimized, and facilities used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic will be recycled. The Olympic organizing committee wants to leave at least one thing that can change society after 2020.
As of January 2018, Japanese society’s clock seems to be set at 2020. The force that brings the national strength together for the Olympics is nearly scary. The Shinzo Abe government wants to use the Olympics to trigger the end of deflation that has plagued Japan for two decades. When a worker died while building a stadium, the construction industry pledged to reduce death from overwork at construction sites. Tokyo is a paradise for smokers, but it also pledged to use the Olympics as a chance to eliminate harm from indirect smoking.
Many Japanese say that 2020 is a mere passing point. While everything is leaning toward 2020, they are actually looking further into the future. Japan advocates AI and autonomous driving technology as key products of the Tokyo Olympics to convince the world of Japan’s technological might once again and get through the crises of population reduction and aging.
Of course, there are criticisms that the Olympics is being used politically. Prime Minister Abe set the time limit for constitutional revision by 2020, which coincides with the Olympics. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics was blamed as the cause for widening socioeconomic gaps in Japan, while contributing to its economic growth. By attracting 40 million visitors for the 2020 Olympics, Japan wants to revitalize the Tohoku region and not repeat the mistakes of wealth polarization from 56 years ago.
Is South Korea using the opportunity of the PyeongChang Winter Games properly after winning the bid? It should be about more than the popularity of official products, pop idols and athletes.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 10, page 29
*The author is Tokyo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.