National

Japan likely to see fewer fireworks next summer due to Olympics

Kyodo

People in Japan are likely to enjoy fewer firework displays next summer due to the commitment of security personnel and resources to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Organizers of fireworks events are already planning to cancel next year’s shows or front-load the summer schedule to avoid the Tokyo Games, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Sumida River Fireworks Festival, normally held on the last Saturday in July, will instead take place on July 11 next year to make way for the Summer Olympics from July 24 through Aug. 9.

Koto Ward in the capital also plans to move its annual August fireworks to June 6 next year, as the waterfront ward will host a number of Olympic events.

Meanwhile, Chuo Ward has suspended its annual Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival since 2016 amid construction of the Olympic village and difficulty in securing a large enough alternative site.

In 2015, the festival drew some 720,000 people and produced an economic impact of about ¥7.4 billion. Romi Takahashi, secretary general of the Tokyo Yakatabune Association, to which over 30 cruise boat operators belong, said the August festival was a major event in their peak season.

“Continued suspension of the event is taking a toll on us. We hope the event will be revived after the Olympics,” Takahashi said. But the ward has not decided whether it will resume the fireworks festival in 2021 and beyond.

In the town of Ichinomiya, situated on the Pacific coast of Chiba Prefecture, the local government has not yet decided whether to hold its annual fireworks event next August while it hosts an Olympic surfing competition.

“We don’t want to disrupt the flow of athletes (during the competition), but we can’t bring in many visitors if we don’t host a fireworks festival in the summer,” said an official at the town’s tourism promotion association.

The city of Fukushima will host baseball and softball games for the 2020 Olympics. Authorities say they will decide what to do with the city’s annual summer fireworks festival after assessing its security resources, given the amount of staff needed for Olympic events.

Shortages of security personnel for local festivals have occurred as a result of major events other than the Olympics. A fireworks festival scheduled for this October in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, was canceled due to an overlap with the Rugby World Cup, as the municipality concluded that it lacked the security personnel to cover both.

Ongoing Olympics-related renovation work at Katase-Enoshima Station, operated by the Odakyu Electric Railway Co., which is the nearest station to the festival venue, also made it difficult for the city to host the event this fall.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5