Shukan Kinyobi (April 20) is no big fan of the Tokyo Olympics. In its current issue, it devotes no fewer than 14 pages to blasting Tokyo's hosting of the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2020 and the enduring damage it will do to the city and the economy.
For instance, writes Tadashi Fujita, the organizers are so bent on milking the Games for all the international prestige they are worth, they are disregarding the devastating impact on small- and medium-sized companies and organizers of the trade shows that will be cancelled to accommodate the Olympics -- a veritable revival of messhi hoko (a catch phrase used during the war to exhort citizens to engage in "selfless devotion").
This, Fujita points out, is not a case of small potatoes. Current estimates are for 78,000 companies to incur losses of 2 trillion yen. This is because the Tokyo Big Site international exhibition complex in Koto Ward is in the process of being converted to the media center for the games, which means its East exhibition hall, which incorporates some 70% of the total display area, won't be used for its regular purpose of trade shows for a period of 20 months from April 2019 onwards.
"And the remaining part of the exhibition areas will be completely closed between May and September 2020," according to an official announcement by the Japan Exhibition Association.
Along with the famous Tokyo Motor Show, which attracted 770,000 visitors last year, exhibits for robotics, electric power, electronics, jewelry, foodstuffs, comic books and job recruitment -- held on a constant basis throughout the year -- will not be held.
"Some people have been complaining to me that their not being able to attend trade shows will force them into bankruptcy," Takaki Shimo, who heads a protest group advocating for protection of industrial firms, tells the magazine. His group has already marched on city hall three times to protest the short shrift local business is being accorded.
"Needless to say, the cancelling of the trade shows will not only affect the bottom lines of exhibitors, but also companies that construct the displays, security firms, custodial workers and so on," Shimo adds. "I'm especially concerned that when the exhibits are halted, the first to lose their jobs will be long-time veteran workers who might be forced into premature retirement."
A similar problem surfaced on a lesser scale after the earthquake in March 2011, when Tokyo Big Site was put to use for over one month to temporarily house evacuees from devastated areas.
"During that time, many people involved with the exhibition site lost their income, and they had a rough time of it," Shimo pointed out.
To add insult to injury, from May through September 2020, Makuhari Messe in Chiba and Saitama Super Arena in Saitama will also be put to use for sports-related events, effectively blocking off the three largest exhibition facilities in the Kanto area.
"We're being forsaken in the name of Olympic glory!" was how one small-time subcontractor puts it.
Masato Hori, director of the Japan Exhibition Association, was quoted as saying, "If there were a way for us to coexist with the Olympics, it would create unprecedented business opportunities for Japan. However, because of the prolonged closure of Tokyo Big Site to exhibitions, business negotiations may be cut short; sales turnover will contract; and the venues may shift outside the country to Shanghai or other Asian cities. (Even as Japan's largest, the floor area of Tokyo Big Site is ranked only 68th worldwide.)
Hori's association is hoping that last-ditch efforts to put pressure on influential LDP Diet members may work to stave off disaster.© Japan Today