#2020olympics

Ghosn’s gone? Is such lax security a risk for the 2020 Olympics?

How terrible must Japan’s immigration systems be to allow a man under house arrest to flee to Lebanon? No records at all. Nissan’s former CEO Carlos Ghosn has an instantly recognizable face. He has been in front of the media so many times and is so famous that cartoons have been written about the man who saved Japan’s second largest auto maker from bankruptcy. It is hard to imagine a customs official wouldn’t be able to spot him even with a pseudonym.

FNF Media has questioned Japan’s approach to airport security before. It is woefully inadequate. At Haneda Airport, FNF Media approached Airport Police to question why they allowed passengers to leave baggage unattended in front of an unopened check-in counter. It was met with a shrug of the shoulders.

Japan may be blessed with low crime rates and a population at ease with following instructions, but Ghosn has once again exposed more weaknesses. Don’t forget Japan has a terrible history of terrorism too. We wrote about this here.

One imagines he flew out on a private jet from a regional airport where detection would be far lower. Although entering Japan requires finger prints and a photo, exiting requires a passport and an exit card. Presumably Ghosn flew out on a new passport under a different name and a new exit card.

Lebanon has no extradition rights with Japan. For whatever crimes Ghosn is alleged to have committed, it was clearly worth Y1.5bn ($15m) to escape the Japanese criminal justice system.

As FNF Media has said for many years, the risk of a terrorist event at the ‘omotenashi’ (friendly) 2020 Olympics is higher than many would imagine. They are taking they same approach as did the Germans at the 1972 Munich Olympics. We all know how disastrously that ended. Japan is unprepared. As an investment, the two leading Japanese Olympics security firms, SECOM and Alsok, have nothing but downside risk if anything ensues. Let us pray nothing happens.

The magic of varied ability sports

Having been so touched at the Invictus Games last year, it is so nice to hear another story of a young boy, Joseph Tidd, missing a limb sharing a magical moment with a player, Carson Picket who has the same condition. USWNT would do well to study how true champions interact.

To be honest while one can appreciate the efforts of an Usain Bolt, Marlene Ottey or a Michael Phelps in the Olympics breaking new records, there is a mystical spell cast when you see people missing limbs, blindness or another condition, overcoming incredible odds to compete.

Coming first is great for the varied ability competitors but every time you will see winners stay back and encourage those yet to finish to get across the line. The energy that brings to the crowd and to the athletes is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Forget the chest bumping of the elite athletes doing it generally for themselves. If one intends to go to the 2020 Olympics, forget it. Buy tickets to the 2020 Paralympics instead because you will literally see the impossible happen right before your eyes. It is utterly uplifting.

Note in Australia there is a group called Heroes with Abilities which gets groups of people with varied abilities to play rugby league. Same sort of passion and you’ll see people play for the joys of it rather than the trappings that come from it.

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.

Imperial Palace opened for the autumn leaves

While we should pity the fact that the 84yo Emperor is not allowed to step down before April 2019, His Excellency can still wake up to this natural beauty in the back yard. 10,000s of people there but another 10,000 police doing checks. Having said that while the high police presence is visible the level of checks is still extremely soft. I honestly worry about the 2020 Olympics being a soft target for terrorism as described in this report   平和ボケ

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.

Death from overwork on the Tokyo Olympic Stadium

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After the first stadium was rejected for its exorbitant cost, the ‘budget’ conscious stadium started 14 months later than anticipated. Due to the delay, work on the new stadium has caused another scandal – excessive overtime. One worker has taken his life after logs showing he had worked over 211hrs of overtime in a month. One shift saw the worker start at 6:30am and finish up 26 hours later. One wonders what will turn it? If Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike offers a glib apology what hope is there of reform? The punishment for Dentsu (who saw a worker commit suicide) was it wasn’t allowed to apply for any Tokyo government ad contracts for one month.

While the advent of Premium Friday (workers can knock off at 3pm on the last Friday of each month) is a positive step forward and having employees clock on & off makes sense, there is a deep seated cultural problem of not wanting to become an outcast within a company. Although the The Japan Institute of Labour Policy & Training reports that since 2002 bullying and harassment claims to the Labor Tribunal have soared from under 6% to over 20% at the same time total disputes have trebled to over 300,000 annually. One worker from Olympus complained his bosses were being unethical by poaching many of a contractors staff. His punishment was demotion among other humiliation. In order to avoid being unfairly treated, people are using the ‘-hara’ (pawa-hara = power harassment, seku-hara = sexual harassment, mata-hara = maternity harassment) route to their advantage as the following charts show.

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For corporates in Japan, the government is the leader. It took PM Koizumi some 15 years ago to introduce the ‘Cool Biz’ concept (removal of neckties in the middle of sweltering summer during a period of power conservation) because corporations didn’t want to risk being the odd one out.

However there are exceptions. One company in Japan has a very open approach to hiring and paying its staff top rates that are based on performance. Staff are willing to work long hours because inputs have transparent outputs. Instead of getting one or two months pay twice a year like many Japanese corporates offer no matter how ordinary the real performance is this company has employees who think, according to one, “like working in heaven.” Simple – they are paid for their abilities and the trappings of that success are indeed visible.

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.