Inose says his charges must ‘sell’ Tokyo goals

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Metropolitan government employees need to improve their ability to promote the capital’s services so they can serve residents better and gain their support for hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, newly elected Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose said.

An award-winning writer-turned-politician who has authored books on the modern history of Japan and Tokyo, Inose believes in the power of words.

Because a government in general does not sell products, “many public servants think that they don’t have to explain about their work to others, but a government actually sells services, which is why they have to be like salesmen and be able to make good presentations,” Inose said in an interview with The Japan Times on Wednesday.

Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics is a good example of how that skill will pay off, said Inose, who won the gubernatorial election Sunday with a record 4,338,936 votes.

Inose says in his book “Kaiketsu Suru Chikara” (“The Power of Solving Problems”) that hosting the Olympics will help strengthen Japan’s athletes and sports culture and energize the deflation-hobbled nation as well.

Although the bureaucrats in charge are already motivated, Inose said they need to be more aggressive in explaining the need for the games so people will get more excited about competing to be the host.

On his first day as governor, Inose took the first step toward improving public relations by going cyber: He ordered all 30 departments at City Hall to create a Twitter account and issue tweets on the kinds of services they offer.

Inose said he wants his metro tweeters, mostly younger employees, to think of how they best send easy to understand information within the format’s 140-word limit.

“It’s very important to develop human resources (who can make articulate presentations) right off,” said Inose, who served as vice governor under his predecessor, Shintaro Ishihara, for more than five years.

Inose also said Tokyo has a better chance of winning the games this time because Qatar, which he considered the capital’s main rival, lost in the first round.

The full support of the central government is also crucial, Inose said. Under Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe, Tokyo’s challenge is likely to receive huge support, he said.

“When Ishihara was in charge, the central government was not very cooperative,” Inose said of his nationalist boss.

Inose also said Tokyo is planing to attract more foreign direct investment with a special economic district called Tokyo’s Special Zone for Asia Headquarters that would offer financial and deregulatory benefits.

When officials at foreign companies move to other countries, “they usually bring their entire families, unlike Japanese businesspeople, who leave them behind. But they won’t know where to find schools for their kids and English-speaking baby sitters,” and it is important to take care of such concerns, he said.

Therefore, Tokyo established a free concierge office for foreign residents in October called the Business Development Center Tokyo in the Shin-Marunouchi Building, he said. The center handles matters related to daily living as well as business-related consultations involving anything from finding partners for foreign companies interested in entering Japan to advice on Japanese business laws and regulations.

In addition, the new governor said that, unlike his predecessor, he respects the human rights of people with gender identity disorders. Ishihara has drawn fire from sexual minorities for making disrespectful or disparaging comments about them in public.

“This is a 180-degree change from the previous governor,” Inose said.

As for Tokyo’s blueprint for revamping the Tsukiji fish market once it is moved from Chuo Ward to Koto Ward, Inose said it is still in the planning stages.