Japan worried about 2020 problem, or life after the Olympics

Tokyo (AP): Japan is gearing up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with gusto, investing in everything from stadiums to electric cars, and expecting an economic bonanza from a construction frenzy and an influx of visitors.

On the face of it, hosting the Olympics is a big win for Japan at a time when its economy seems besieged by intractable problems. The Bank of Japan estimates the economic perk at 30 trillion yen (USD 250 billion), many times even the highest estimate of the costs to prepare for and run the event.

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But for some, 2020 is another manifestation of what has been going wrong in Japan for decades. Instead of modernizing the economy and taking other steps to address the powerful headwinds of an aging population and shrinking workforce, the government has turned again to its well-worn playbook of borrow and hope.

Discussion and fears about what Japan can turn to for an economic lifeline after the Olympics have become so commonplace it’s even been given a name: the 2020 problem.

Japan “will overstretch itself,” William Saito, an entrepreneur and technology expert, said of the spending for the games. “It will quite possibly be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “Everyone is predicting that it will be that catalyst.”

In his concerns, Saito is joined by a chorus of doomsayers. The title of one recent book screams: “Japanese Land Prices Sink to a Third of Their Value! The Crisis That Comes After the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

Prophetically, for the naysayers, preparations for the Olympics have already hit big snags. The design of the main stadium has been redone after a public uproar over its cost. The Tokyo Olympics emblem is being redesigned because of plagiarism allegations.

And the organising committee has not disclosed an official estimate of costs, saying it’s still trying to figure it out and did not know when such a number would be ready.

It has acknowledged the cost will be considerably higher than the 350 billion yen (USD 3 billion) it gave when the city was bidding.

The dire predictions of what’s in store for Japan after the Olympics range from a collapse in property prices to a financial crisis sparked by the weight of the government’s debt burden, which is the highest in the industrial world at 234 per cent of gross domestic product.

The time limit for getting that debt under control may be running out, said Kazumasa Oguro, professor of economics at Hosei University.

2 Comments

  1. The only industrialized country in the world that does not open up immigration – Japan will pay heavily for its anti-immigration policies. It is one of the most racist countries under the Sun! Even people of Japanese origin from Brazil are discriminated against in Japan! The men smoke heavily and drink too much and also come home late at night and women have absolutely no place in the business world other than secretaries who are expected to make coffee or tea every few hours! Many Japanese men do not want their daughters to attend universities! One will not know about these issues unless one lives in Japan for a few months.

    • Mr. B. Dinesh,

      I have not visited Japan, but have heard many things from those who have visited the Land of the Rising Sun and spent few days, weeks or considerable length of time in this land. I have read about Japanese, their patriotism, their industriousness, their fetish for punctuality and attending appointments on time, their discipline, their politicians (unlike their Indian counterparts) being non-corrupt and other interesting things. In World War II, they were the most ferocious soldiers and when defending countless islands they had captured in the Pacific, which were later attacked by American naval ships of all sizes (aircraft-carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, etc), tonnages and firepower carrying Marines and other troops, they preferred committing harakiri, rather than surrendering. In fact, Japanese cannot tolerate embarrassments, scandals, accusations and this is reflected by their high suicide rates.

      I do not know if immigration is permitted for everyone or, as I read somewhere that Muslims cannot enter and take up Japanese nationality. Therefore, one does not hear about terrorism in that country. I know that most of the Muslims are good, but it is the radicalized few that bring a bad name to the whole country. From the media reports, we have seen Muslims youngsters in India, some of whom are educated and can be categorized as professionals, do not know what is ISIS, how dangerous it is and wreck their cushy life and careers to join a terrorist organization with whom no law-abiding citizen would have nothing to do with.

      Concerning Japan, I could send you a scanned copy of a letter that I had got from a World War II personality, who has achieved international stature and is a part of history of that era due to his actions during that war and good deeds after the war. Could I have your email please? My email address is: lesterlpearson@gmail.com.

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