An earthquake at the Olympic torch relay start point is just the beleaguered Tokyo 2020 Games’ latest crisis
“It’s really a black eye for Japan,” said Jeff Kingston, professor of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo. “The whole thing was to prove the brand to Japan, and the rest of the world has seen Japan that Tokyo did not want to see them.”
Fukushima resident Shizuoka, who told CNN to use only his maiden name, said: “Honestly, in Japan, now is not the time to hold an Olympics. He said that hosting the Olympics at this time would be of little benefit. . Resident of the country. “There is no hope with the Olympics,” she continued.
Tokyo 2020 was billed by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an opportunity to demonstrate Japan’s powerful recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and years of a stable economic performance.
The torch relay began in Fukushima province on 25 March and was the center of that recovery story. But residents in Fukushima tell a different story.
“A huge amount was spent [on the Olympics], But I don’t think I got any benefit from it, “said 68-year-old Saki Okwara, a care worker living in Miharu Town, Fukushima.
Okavara, who is also associated with the local activist group “Association of Nuclear Accident Victims”, said the statement of the organizer of a recovered Fukushima still has a long way to go. “They want to hold the ‘Olympics for recovery’ after 10 years and say that recovery has taken place. But still, at least 37,000 people are away from home and we are far from recovery,” he told.
“The $ 25 billion spent on the Olympics will have to be spent to help the victims of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.” Tosho Miyazaki from Tokyo-based activist group “No Thank You to Olympic Disasters” said. “The Olympics are highlighting the recovery of the 2011 disaster, however, Fukushima has not recovered at all.”
Miyazaki’s grassroots group is one of several anti-Olympic sports that have sprung up against the country hosting the Games. Additionally, several environmental groups have expressed concern over organizing the Olympic Torch Relay in Fukushima. Local authorities have considered the course safe by conducting environmental radiation monitoring tests en route, concluding with a recent survey in December that there was no reason to change plans for the Japanese leg of the torch relay.
The Japanese government has spent 37.1 trillion yen (more than $ 353 billion) on restoration efforts in all affected areas in the years following the devastation, of which 6.6 trillion yen (about $ 63 billion) focused on nuclear disaster recovery.
While a recent poll by Japanese broadcaster NHK found that most people in the country believe the Games should be canceled or postponed, others expect the Olympics to offer economic growth and momentary relief after a few years .
Aftershocks are still being felt in the wake of Saturday night’s earthquake but at present, the torch relay route is unaffected. And yet, for some, the incoming torch in Fukushima is a source of hope for the region’s recovery.
“I hope the Olympics will be held,” Mihko Kimura, a resident of Ishinomiki, Miyagi Prefecture, a city destroyed by the 2011 tsunami. “The torch that goes on in Tohoku seems to be the light of hope, while many businesses have been forced to close. I think rebuilding the economy is one of the ways to overcome the earthquake.”
For others, like Shinosuke Sakuma in Koriyama City, Fukuoka Prefecture, the game would be a welcome distraction from the coronovirus, if only for a short time. “Under the epidemic, our activities are restricted,” Sakuma said. “Even if the Olympics are held without an audience, we can watch the games on TV. We have to do something to enjoy in this situation.”