147 days till Shinzo Abe’s Olympic extravaganza

Today marks 147 days until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, cum Shinzo Abe’s “let’s forget about Fukushima and remind everyone about Cool Japan and Mario!” Dentsu-supercharged sweltering summer extravaganza.

With the coronavirus scare in Japan reaching a fever pitch, a tweet went viral today with the hashtag #中止だ中止 (referencing the piece of graffiti on the lower right of the frame).

Let’s actually reflect how scarily accurate this frame is. As with what happened in Akira:

  1. Tokyo also has a new national stadium built just for the event.
  2. The slogan in the frame, 国民の力で成功させよう (“let’s make the Olympics succeed with the nation’s efforts”), echoes Mr. Abe’s own policy speech to the Diet earlier this year.
  3. The Olympics is to take place against a background of decay.

I presume the Olympics also actually gets cancelled at the end of Akira, since the under-construction stadium, which is actually a secret military base, is destroyed.

In our world, the new national stadium is a little more conventional, if not with a bunch of design flaws that make it unpopular with fans, track and field athletes, and soccer players alike, according to this video:

Japanese audio only.

So will folks cancel the Olympics in real life? To be honest, it’s too early to tell.

According to The Diplomat, a policy journal on the Asia-Pacific region, Japan’s economy wouldn’t actually suffer too much if the Olympics didn’t happen:

Yet should the worse-case scenario for Japan eventuate, the economic impact might not be as devastating as feared, according to Capital Economics.

“The key point…is that most of the spending for the Olympics has already happened. Spending during the Games themselves is small, perhaps just 0.2 percent of GDP, and much of this is diverted from spending in other areas of tourism and recreation,” senior Japan economist Marcel Thieliant said in a February 21 report.

The London-based consultancy points to the experience of previous Games such as the 2008 London Olympics. While spending by overseas visitors surged by nearly 18 percent during the event, it slumped to a 21-month low some two months later. Similarly, the 2000 Sydney Olympics had a “negligible” impact on travel spending.

“What’s more, there is little evidence that the ‘feel-good’ effect from the Olympics boosts consumer spending,” Thieliant said, pointing to data from previous Games.

I would read Thieliant’s analysis as more damning circumstantial evidence that the Olympics have nothing to do with helping the Tohoku region recover.

While I’m on the subject of Akira, why don’t we address Akira‘s cascading snowball of accurate predictions for the past year?

We’ve already seen the harrowing comparison between the protests in Akira and in Hong Kong. The panel comes from the last page of the third volume:

And come 2020, someone noticed that the panel has a small newspaper cut out that criticizes the World Health Organization for its response to a contagious viral epidemic:

So there’s actually two accurate predictions here. The first is that a viral epidemic is happening around the same time as Akira, as the coronavirus pandemic is happening right now. The second is that people have lost trust in WHO, as, I would believe, people have from COVID-19.

As TV Tokyo analyzes below, China has a heavy hand in controlling who runs WHO. Why is its director-general so obsessed with praising China’s response to COVID-19 (while turning a blind eye to censorship of the brave doctors who spoke out)?

Japanese audio, with some Japanese subtitles.

Thirty-eight years after its inception, Akira continues to subvert our nasty and brutish politics. No one establishment can co-opt it for its own purpose—despite what this trashy listicle says, Akira seems to be aging as well as a barrel of Suntory Hibiki whiskey, if not better. Can you ever imagine Mr. Abe popping out of the sewers in Rio de Janeiro cosplaying as Shotaro Kaneda with his superbike?