The summer of 2019 brought record-breaking heat. Early to mid-September, until last week, felt like late July in Kansai, Tokyo, Nagoya and parts of Kyushu and Shikoku. Only in a few areas of Hokkaido, where temperatures dropped into the low teens at night, were there clear signs autumn was arriving.

For much of the nation — well, for much of the media anyway — the blistering heat and humidity was a wake-up call to the reality that the Tokyo Olympics was a year away and would probably be held in similar weather conditions.

At the same time, there was a certain degree of disbelief felt when watching TV reports on how Tokyo might handle the heat during the Olympics, such as creating artificial snow to cool off visitors. Perhaps that's one definition of the political and corporate world's favorite buzzword, "innovation"?