Oh, the places we’ll go in 2020 — unless, of course, we won’t


I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for 2020! And it’s not just because the Olympics and Paralympics are coming to Tokyo, the metropolis that Trip Advisor recently designated the world’s “most satisfying city” for tourists. In case you aren’t aware, by 2020 Tokyo and Japan are going to be much, much more satisfying. It’s as if Japan is sharing the whimsy of America’s most oft-quoted author, Dr. Seuss, in “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

Just look at the promises we’ve made — oh, the places we’ll go!

We’ll be on our way up!

Tokyo will be completely safe from nuclear-disaster fallout, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the International Olympic Committee, referring to the aftereffects of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. “Let me assure you,” he said, “the situation is under control.” He impressed upon the committee that the radioactive leaks never have and never will affect Tokyo.

Well, I’m glad someone has a handle on all this, especially since highly contaminated water used to cool the fuel in the damaged reactors is building up at the Fukushima No. 1 plant at the rate of 400 tons a day. Tepco is also building an underground ice wall around buildings at the plant in the hope that this will reduce the further 400 tons of groundwater that becomes contaminated as it passes through the plant’s basements and surroundings daily. And in separate incidents, plenty of contaminated water has already made its way into the sea, but if we can get those fish to not swim to Tokyo, I’m sure we’ll all be fine!

We’ll be seeing great sights!

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is encouraging the central government to use the 2020 Tokyo games as an opportunity to boost economic growth and tourism nationwide. He advocates a “Japan Olympics” rather than one focusing on Tokyo alone.

Bravo! So, I’m presuming they’ll include the Tohoku tourist sights in their plans, and I’m hoping they’ll send some of those new stadiums over here to western Japan. Spectators could always buy Japan Rail Passes and take the bullet train back and forth between events. After all, who doesn’t enjoy riding the shinkansen? We’re expected to receive more and more visitors throughout Japan for years on end due to the aftereffects of the games.

We’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

Abe hopes that by 2020, Japan will have done away with the self-imposed ban on collective defense. If his proposed reinterpretation of the Constitution’s Article 9 goes through, Japan will be able to help its allies should they be attacked. We’ll be able to protect U.S. naval ships and shoot down ballistic missiles. In short, we’ll be able to get ourselves killed again! Yay!

We won’t lag behind, because we’ll have the speed.

Starting in 2020, the education ministry will extend the period of classroom English study from elementary through high school in an attempt to make Japan more global. This will begin six years from now, because starting right away would be, well, six years premature for globalness! We really don’t need English communication until then, so why start early? We can always catch up later.

When we welcome an expected 10 million visitors for the Olympiad — many who will speak English — we’ll be sure to not be ready! And what better way to motivate people than to have them jump straight into the deep end? They’ll learn English even faster then.

We’ll pass the whole gang and we’ll soon take the lead.

By 2020, Abe has pledged to have more than 30 percent of civil-service managerial positions filled by women. And the number of day-care centers will have increased to accommodate 70,000 more children, getting tots off day-care waiting lists and women into jobs.

OK, so we should have done this long ago, but the government expects the economic benefits of hosting the Olympics to be as much as ¥3 trillion and for the games to create 150,000 jobs. We’ll get there in the end, but we just need more time to take the lead.

Wherever we fly, we’ll be the best of the best.

Soon after 2020, we’ll be whizzing by everyone else in maglev trains at 500 km per hour. That’s 310 miles per hour! No one will be able to catch us then.

Wherever we go, we will top all the rest.

Except when we don’t. Because, sometimes, we won’t. There will be times, I’m sorry to say, when we’ll find ourselves in “The Waiting Place”: Waiting for a superior to leave, or a young entrepreneur to come. Waiting for English education to improve, the tax laws to change, the nuclear reactors to restart. Waiting for the economy to revive, the TPP to be OK’d, the Futenma base to be moved, or waiting for Japan’s global competitiveness to improve. Waiting for Filipino health care workers to come and Indonesian nurses to pass tests. Waiting for the Hague Convention to be signed. Waiting for child-care reform, immigration reform, or an English sign to show you the way. Everyone is just waiting for decisions to be made, policies to be implemented, change to start.

But oh, the places we’ll go! There are points to be scored, there are games to be won.

With the new 80,000-capacity stadium, we’ll have plenty of space for recreation and events after the Games end. Even elephants will be able to bring their families to the stadium and be guaranteed good seats. City dogs will finally have a stadium to exercise in (ooh, all those stairs!) and Japan can surely use the arena to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest daily morning “radio taiso” exercise event for octogenarians.

We’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching us win on TV.

The economy will surge, we’ll get out of this mess! Because 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics will be here! And all our troubles will be gone.

Unless, of course, they won’t. Because, sometimes, they don’t.

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