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Iwate: Do you think the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will have any positive effect on Tohoku?

by Louise George Kittaka

Interviews were conducted in the town of Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture.

Jerome Cosse
University professor, 38 (French)
Personally, I don’t think Japan needs the Olympics, which have become too commercial and political. I prefer the Nemean Games, which is a return to the original spirit of the ancient Olympics.

Yolie Feliz-Bordonada
Language student, 24 (American)
I think it’s perfect timing to host an event like the Olympics in 2020. All the international attention will ensure Tohoku stays in the spotlight and will hopefully lead to continued fundraising efforts.

Miho Noro
Shop staff, 40 (Japanese)
I don’t think the timing is right. I have relatives in the Rikuzentakata area, which was badly affected by the 2011 disaster. The money would be better spent on helping people in Tohoku.

William Woods
English teacher, 28 (American)
I can’t comment on the financial impact, but it could be good for morale. For example, I’m from New Orleans, which successfully hosted the Super Bowl just a few years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Takenobu Sato
Retailer, 49 (Japanese)
I think it’s great that the Olympic Games are coming! There’ll be a lot of foreign visitors and I want them to come to Tohoku and see the wonderful things we have to offer here.

Yuko Shiga
Pharmacy student, 28 (Japanese)
Hosting the Olympics will be exciting for Japan, but there are other priorities. Is it really right to invite all these foreign athletes while we are still cleaning up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster?

Interested in collecting vox pops in your local area? Email community@japantimes.co.jp

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  • A.J. Sutter

    The word “any” in the question is a rather low bar. The Olympics might benefit local tourism — if prefectural websites and businesses ever use more English (sc., real English, not the automated Google pidgin Iwate-ken now offers). As a patron of many cafés and other businesses in Morioka, I can also suggest that modernizing washroom facilities should also be high on the list: a surprising number of even fairly hip places have ancient squat-type toilets.

    However, there’s no question that the Olympics will have a significant negative effect on Tohoku. Many victims of 3/11 are still in temporary housing — some examples of which were easily visible as recently as three days ago (2014.05.06) from the shinkansen tracks as you pass through Sendai. Steel and concrete for construction are already in short supply in the region. Reconstruction of the tsunami-affected areas is further slowed by the absence of housing for construction workers. These problems will only get worse, as both material and labor are lured to the Tokyo region for the more lucrative Olympic boondoggle.

    It’s also very sad to see how much these issues have slipped out of mind. Only one person out of 6 above even alludes to the tragedy from the tsunami in Miyagi/Iwate/Aomori, which involved the loss of homes, businesses and tens of thousands of lives, and the continued displacement of 270,000 people. As sympathetic as I am to the displaced people in Fukushima and the harm to local agriculture there, the problems from radiation are relatively minor by comparison to the issues to the north.

  • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

    “I think it’s perfect timing to host an event like the Olympics in 2020.
    All the international attention will ensure Tohoku stays in the
    spotlight and will hopefully lead to continued fundraising efforts.”

    Are you joking? If anything the olympics are to further divert international attention away from the disaster up north and convince outsiders that the situation is under control when it is clearly not.