#tokyoolympics

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.

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.

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.