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Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics 2021 Discussion Thread

What is your take: should the Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics be held in 2021 or not?

  • Yes, they should go ahead as scheduled (July 2021).

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Lothor

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Allow me to get on my soapbox again regarding this particular recent development.

While the full body of the article is far more enlightening (as well as disturbing; read it at your own risk if you're easily traumatized), I just have to say that I'm very frustrated with headlines and sound bites that refer to this simply as "(past) bullying", or Japanese news stories likewise glossing over it as ijime (though again, many of the news programs have done a fine job covering/criticizing it in depth).

"Past bullying" kind of makes it sound like it came to light that he called a classmate some names back in junior high and is now being forced to pay the price decades later.

It would be more accurate to say that he stepped down (or, it seems now, was forced or at least strongly encouraged to by the Japanese government) over the revelation that he had not only physically, psychologically and sexually tortured and abused disabled classmates as a high schooler, but had bragged, joked about it, and laughed it off on multiple occasions even long after becoming a successful adult, not even showing one ounce of regret or remorse until issuing a form-letter apology on Twitter after an old magazine interview resurfaced this week in light of his role in the Olympic ceremony.

On a personal note, this one was pretty rough for me, as I genuinely like this guy's music and had/have a ton of respect for his talent as a composer. It was very hard (and still is) for me to accept that someone who has composed such beautiful songs could be such a psychopathic monster.
I had to wrestle with similar feelings when one of my long-term songwriting heroes (Morrissey, the lead singer of The Smiths, a very successful solo artist, and a superlative lyricist) started actively supporting some of Britain's far-right parties, so you have my sympathy. I also got similarly annoyed when watching the news last night. I was listening to the English translation of NHK news, and they blandly mentioned that he stepped down because of "comments he had made on bullying". "Comments he made on bullying? He made disabled kids eat poo!" I shouted at the TV, much to the amusement of my older son.
 

mdchachi

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This whole debacle is far more ぼろぼろ than I imagined. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out on TV.
 

nice gaijin

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This whole debacle is far more ぼろぼろ than I imagined. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out on TV.
My guess it'll be a kind of quiet, plain affair with no live audiences on the official streams, with occasional news stories of how things are going wrong in the background
 

mdchachi

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nice gaijin

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They've had a year to perfect digital crowds if they choose to deploy them.
Welcome to the uncanny valley, where your nightmares are on-demand
external-content.duckduckgo.jpg
 

thomas

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And the clean-up continues: comedian Kobayashi Kentaro, the director of the Olympics opening ceremony, was fired over Holocaust jokes he made in 1998.

kobayashi-kentaro(1).jpg


Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Olympics opening ceremony, has been removed from his post following news reports about his past comments on the Holocaust, the Tokyo Organising Committee announced Thursday. Reports about Kobayashi’s comments have quickly drawn criticism, including by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which condemned what it called anti-Semitic jokes by Kobayashi, a comedian. According to Japanese media reports, Kobayashi made light of the mass murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis in a script for his comedy act in 1998, including saying, “Let’s play Holocaust.”


Kobayashi is a former member of a popular comedy duo Rahmens and known for comedy series including "The Japanese Tradition." We have their video series linked somewhere here on JREF, I have always found it quite ingenious. How sad.
 

cez

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Just in case you're wondering what the actual content was, someone uploaded the relevant part of the act in question to NicoNico: ホモと見るユダヤ人大量惨/殺ごっこ.ramen's (the Holocaust quote is in the last 10 seconds of the video). He's saying 「本当?ああ、あの『ユダヤ人大量惨殺ごっこ』やろうって言った時のな」, referring to some paper dolls "from (the time) when we (/you) said, let's play Holocaust (lit. "horrible mass murder of Jews"). They go on saying, "Yeah, Toda (the producer) got pretty mad. -You can't bring that on TV, he said."
 

thomas

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Thanks for posting this, @cez! It seems the audience wasn’t very amused either.
 

cez

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Found a longer version:


I wonder what the (internal) logic of the act was to bring up the Holocaust. Just from looking at it it seems completely irrelevant to the act. Anyway, he and everyone involved should have been proactive about this and make a clear statement. You can't just hope that whatever stupidity you did in the past won't bite you in the *** once you become a public figure.
 

Lothor

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What I'm trying to get my head around is why in a country that is so self-conscious about how it is portrayed on the world stage, there was so little background checking on the people responsible for a ceremony that will be watched by billions.
 

Lothor

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A bit of light relief - a woman on the British Expats in Japan Facebook page came up with this (reposted with permission). Opening ceremony bingo!

olympic.jpg
 

bentenmusume

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What I'm trying to get my head around is why in a country that is so self-conscious about how it is portrayed on the world stage, there was so little background checking on the people responsible for a ceremony that will be watched by billions.
Frankly, it doesn't surprise me at all. Sure, Japan is "self-conscious" in a general sense, but that doesn't mean that an organization run by crusty old politicians and in the pocket of too-big-to-fail corporations is going to have the cultural sensitivity and common sense to make decisions that present it in a good light on the world stage. I mean, this is a committee that was until recently run by serial bigot and gaffe-producing machine Yoshiro Mori, and even though they replaced him with Seiko Hashimoto (which a cynical observer might argue was more for appearances than a genuine effort to achieve gender diversity), I mean, she's an LDP lifer (and friend of Mori's) who is hardly a bastion of progressive views herself.

I actually read/heard that some of the younger staffers on the organizing committee raised the issue about Keigo Oyamada/Cornelius and were ignored by their bosses, who basically just brushed it off as "we have no time to find a replacement", "he'll apologize and everything will be fine", etc., without taking the trouble to be aware of the exact nature of the problem, which is exactly what I'd expect from a Japanese corporate/political entity.

That said, I'm going to get on my soapbox again.

Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Olympics opening ceremony, has been removed from his post following news reports about his past comments on the Holocaust, the Tokyo Organising Committee announced Thursday.
It really, really bothers me that this news is getting lumped together (especially abroad in English-language media) with that of Oyamada/Cornelius and just kind of painted in the same brush as "another Olympic-affiliated creator with a horrible past".

Oyamada's "past bullying" was again, I reiterate, a case where he not only repeated physically, psychologically, and sexually abused disabled classmates as a high schooler, but gloated, laughed, and bragged about it on multiple occasions even long after he had become a successful adult, not once showing even the slightest hint of remorse, regret or self-reflection until last week, when he released a form-letter apology on Twitter.

What about Kobayashi? He used to be part of a comedy duo called Rahmens (full disclosure: much like Cornelius's music, I'd also consider myself a fan of their work), that—in one line of one segment of a skit produced over twenty years ago—made a flippant and ignorant reference to the Holocaust.

Look, I'm not defending the line itself. It certainly came from a lack of education/understanding about how taboo the subject matter is, especially abroad. But the Rahmens produced literally hundreds, if not thousands of hours of comedy skits, and—even looking at the rest of that skit, let alone the entire body of their work—there is absolutely zero indication of any sort of anti-semitic, bigoted, discriminatory views or mentality of any sort. (On the contrary, their work is generally absurdist/surrealist/quirky and pretty entertaining and intellectual, IMHO.)

"Past comments on the Holocaust" makes it sound like the man himself is some sort of Holocaust denier or history revisionist (along the lines of Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama), not a guy who added a line in ill-taste to a skit when he was a 20-something comedian barely out of college and probably wasn't fully educated/enlightened about the subject (as I imagine would also be true of many younger Japanese back then, including the audience he was writing for). Looking in context, you can see he was probably just looking for a suitable horrifying historical event to toss in for the absurdist/shock value of it. Was that smart/funny? No, but I would imagine there are many, many comedians out there who are at least as guilty of a similar crime.

To castigate this guy as if he's morally bankrupt in anywhere near the same way as someone who made disabled classmates eat **** and perform sex acts, traumatizing them for life in the process, with zero regrets or remose just seems completely unfair to me.

If anything, this should have been the case where they allowed someone to make a sincere apology—like they tried and failed to do with Cornelius—and used it as a teachable moment. (And if you read it, Kobayashi's apology is much, much more heartfelt and rings far more true than Cornelius's, in part because there is absolutely nothing in his behavior or body of work over the years to suggest that this one line was indicative of a deeper, more problematic mindset incompatible with the Olympic mission.)

But since they're just flailing now anyway, I guess I'm not surprised that they happily threw Kobayashi under the bus, one week after they made an effort to defend Oyamada, an actual psychopathic monster.

</rant>
 

Lothor

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Frankly, it doesn't surprise me at all. Sure, Japan is "self-conscious" in a general sense, but that doesn't mean that an organization run by crusty old politicians and in the pocket of too-big-to-fail corporations is going to have the cultural sensitivity and common sense to make decisions that present it in a good light on the world stage. I mean, this is a committee that was until recently run by serial bigot and gaffe-producing machine Yoshiro Mori, and even though they replaced him with Seiko Hashimoto (which a cynical observer might argue was more for appearances than a genuine effort to achieve gender diversity), I mean, she's an LDP lifer (and friend of Mori's) who is hardly a bastion of progressive views herself.

I actually read/heard that some of the younger staffers on the organizing committee raised the issue about Keigo Oyamada/Cornelius and were ignored by their bosses, who basically just brushed it off as "we have no time to find a replacement", "he'll apologize and everything will be fine", etc., without taking the trouble to be aware of the exact nature of the problem, which is exactly what I'd expect from a Japanese corporate/political entity.

That said, I'm going to get on my soapbox again.


It really, really bothers me that this news is getting lumped together (especially abroad in English-language media) with that of Oyamada/Cornelius and just kind of painted in the same brush as "another Olympic-affiliated creator with a horrible past".

Oyamada's "past bullying" was again, I reiterate, a case where he not only repeated physically, psychologically, and sexually abused disabled classmates as a high schooler, but gloated, laughed, and bragged about it on multiple occasions even long after he had become a successful adult, not once showing even the slightest hint of remorse, regret or self-reflection until last week, when he released a form-letter apology on Twitter.

What about Kobayashi? He used to be part of a comedy duo called Rahmens (full disclosure: much like Cornelius's music, I'd also consider myself a fan of their work), that—in one line of one segment of a skit produced over twenty years ago—made a flippant and ignorant reference to the Holocaust.

Look, I'm not defending the line itself. It certainly came from a lack of education/understanding about how taboo the subject matter is, especially abroad. But the Rahmens produced literally hundreds, if not thousands of hours of comedy skits, and—even looking at the rest of that skit, let alone the entire body of their work—there is absolutely zero indication of any sort of anti-semitic, bigoted, discriminatory views or mentality of any sort. (On the contrary, their work is generally absurdist/surrealist/quirky and pretty entertaining and intellectual, IMHO.)

"Past comments on the Holocaust" makes it sound like the man himself is some sort of Holocaust denier or history revisionist (along the lines of Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama), not a guy who added a line in ill-taste to a skit when he was a 20-something comedian barely out of college and probably wasn't fully educated/enlightened about the subject (as I imagine would also be true of many younger Japanese back then, including the audience he was writing for). Looking in context, you can see he was probably just looking for a suitable horrifying historical event to toss in for the absurdist/shock value of it. Was that smart/funny? No, but I would imagine there are many, many comedians out there who are at least as guilty of a similar crime.

To castigate this guy as if he's morally bankrupt in anywhere near the same way as someone who made disabled classmates eat **** and perform sex acts, traumatizing them for life in the process, with zero regrets or remose just seems completely unfair to me.

If anything, this should have been the case where they allowed someone to make a sincere apology—like they tried and failed to do with Cornelius—and used it as a teachable moment. (And if you read it, Kobayashi's apology is much, much more heartfelt and rings far more true than Cornelius's, in part because there is absolutely nothing in his behavior or body of work over the years to suggest that this one line was indicative of a deeper, more problematic mindset incompatible with the Olympic mission.)

But since they're just flailing now anyway, I guess I'm not surprised that they happily threw Kobayashi under the bus, one week after they made an effort to defend Oyamada, an actual psychopathic monster.

</rant>
I agree. People sometimes say crass and dumb things when they are young and you have to draw the line somewhere with how much people are to be punished for that. And I'm saying that as a half Jewish person who has reported anti-semitism - not against me - in the past.
 
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Lothor

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For those following the politics behind the games, this fascinating article was inconspicuously posted on Japan Today that has a rather different take on things.
 

thomas

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For those following the politics behind the games, this fascinating article was inconspicuously posted on Japan Today that has a rather different take on things.

The article dosn’t mention any names, but this week a few Jimintō faces resurfaced in the media after a long hiatus. New hairstyles and spectacles but the same old boring slogans. I hope that doesn’t mean Abe III.
 

mdchachi

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On the bright side, I heard they put on a hell of a drone show. I'll try to catch it on the replay tonight.
 

thomas

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On the bright side, I heard they put on a hell of a drone show. I'll try to catch it on the replay tonight.

We watched the whole ceremony. The effects were amazing, the drones displaying a rotating globe probably the (technical) highlight.
 

Lothor

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We watched the whole ceremony. The effects were amazing, the drones displaying a rotating globe probably the (technical) highlight.
They murdered 'Imagine' though!
 

bentenmusume

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On another positive note (at least for me), as someone who grew up a pretty serious video gamer and has now been working in the industry for well over a decade, I was rather entertained by the decision to use a medley of orchestrated video game music as the soundtrack to the Parade of Nations (as well as intrigued by how niche some of their selections were—SaGa, NieR, and the Tales series instead of Zelda or Mario? makes me wonder if Nintendo asked not to be involved...)
 

Majestic

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this fascinating article was inconspicuously posted on Japan Today that has a rather different take on things.

I read that article, and it feels slightly ridiculous to me. I mean, does the Japanese government really need to manufacture an Olympics debacle in order to get rid of a prime minister? The mere perception of unpopularity is enough for the LDP to pull the plug on a PMs support. And knowing how acutely aware of international opinion these guys are it seems unlikely that the government would hope for a failed Olympics (whatever that means) so they could use that as a pretext for bringing on a new Prime Minister. His popularity is already phenomenally low... its not as if they need another reason to bounce him.

I mean, I'm sure his detractors will be happy if he is pushed out, no matter what the pretext is. But to spin it as a machiavellian plot to derail the Olympics so that one faction can engineer political momentum is...an unusual "hot take".
 

bentenmusume

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I would tend to agree with this, especially because Suga was basically the "chosen one" appointed by the LDP elites to replace Abe from the start. He's not where he is now because he's some young upstart who was popular with the people or another faction, he was basically Abe's long-time enforcer/middle manager who was hand-picked for the role over Ishiba (from a more progressive wing of the LDP and popular with underrepresented groups across the country) and Kishida (something of a cipher politically, but certainly younger and more charismatic) because he was seen as the one who would dutifully carry on the Abe legacy without rocking the boat or ruffling any feathers. If this the LDP playing some 4D-chess to put Abe back on top, that would be a tremendously over-convoluted and potentially damaging way of doing so.

Besides, the "future" of the LDP is widely perceived to be Kono Taro, who is currently flunking terribly as the minister in charge of the COVID vaccine rollout (started slow, seemed to pick up, but now the entire country is facing a vaccine shortage despite incredible work by the local municipalities, and it's all the national government's fault for not securing enough supply). If the Olympics are a disaster (in part because of COVID), he and the entire LDP will certainly shoulder a large share of the blame, and I would highly, highly doubt that these powerful, shadowy forces would be looking to get the entire LDP (the de facto ruling party and friend to all the old boys) voted out.

So, yeah, while it's a fun enough read, it seems like a lot of conspiracy theorizing from someone who perhaps doesn't quite understand the inner workings of the Japanese government as a whole and the LDP in particular.
 
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