In its second issue of the new year, Asahi Geino (Jan. 14) served up a list of "extreme predictions" for 2021.
Concerning crime, for example, the magazine warned of the likelihood of various scams connected with the eventual rollout of COVID vaccine. Turf wars are expected to break out between rival gangs of Vietnamese in Japan. And as one result of people being driven to desperation due to the pandemic, amateur groups -- as opposed to career criminals -- will be recruited via social networks and engage in predatory armed robberies.
"The coronavirus will be casting its dark shadow in terms of crime as well," Geino warns grimly.
Next came the Tokyo Olympics.
"I'm disappointed in the lack of transparency from the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers," says Masayuki Tamaki, a sports culture critic. Tamaki tells the magazine he supposes the final go or no-go decision to proceed with the games, already postponed by one year, will be made at the end of March.
"That will be the time by which the final elimination rounds around the world will decide the competitors," Tamaki remarks. "As far as entry into Japan, if the pandemic continues to its present extent, Japan will apply more severe restrictions on entry from abroad.
"Even if the issue is forced so that the games are held, it may be they will inevitably wind up as a 'lonely Olympics,' with no spectators in the stands," he predicts.
"Two months ago, an international gymnastics tourney, which was regarded as a litmus test for the summer 2021 games, was held in Tokyo," says a sports reporter. "In addition to conducting daily PCR tests on the athletes for COVID, strict controls were enforced on the athletes' accommodations and their movements to and from the venues. As a result, not a single athlete was found to test positive. But wasn't it odd that the athletes found the restrictions on their freedom of movement to be demeaning and stressful?"
If the games proceed as planned this summer, the restrictions on foreign athletes are likely go so far as to include prohibitions on sightseeing in Tokyo. If they're confined to their quarters, it's even possible that a ban may be imposed on the only corporeal pleasure still left to them -- "international exchanges after dark."
"It looks like an order banning sex will be imposed on the residents of the Olympic Village," says a TV program director. "Sex between the athletes in normal times is not discouraged and there had been plans to distribute 160,000 free condoms in restrooms. But that is unlikely now. The athletes will be given smartphones incorporating a GPS application that will monitor their movements, making it difficult for them to slip into others' rooms."
Finally, international journalist Toshihiro Yamada foresees the likelihood of more cyberattacks -- such as holding captured data for "ransom" under threat of it being deleted -- on Japanese companies by hackers in Russia, China, North Korea and South Korea.
"The huge increase in teleworking this past year made it easier for hackers to gain access," he notes. "In the U.S., according to a report from the FBI, cyber crimes increased by as much as 400% on a daily basis.
"Companies in Japan are not required to make public damages they incur from cyberattacks, and their corporate culture makes them reluctant to divulge such information out of fears that it would tarnish their corporate image or possibly affect the value of stocks, so they hush things up.
"Burying bad news makes it all the more likely that more companies will be targeted by bad actors," Yamada added.© Japan Today