The 1964 Olympics saw Tokyo embark on major improvements to show its best face to foreign visitors. We are told similar efforts are under way for the 2020 games. Or are they? A recent visit to that mecca for many foreign visitors, Roppongi, raised a few doubts.
True, a rebuilding rush has helped remove some of the grotty bars and cheap eateries that used to cluster in slum-like existence near the Roppongi intersection area, the main tourist hangout. But little has been done about the blight of the mostly African touts that infest the area. Those of us who have to live here accept this state of affairs grudgingly. But what would a foreign visitor feel as he or she tries to pass through that nightly nightmare of arrogant contempt for civilized behavior?
The police have put up notices in the area warning against touting. We are even asked to report any such incidents. But if you think this is going to make things better then think again. Most of those former touts now simply group by the roadside or lurk in entrances and passageways.