A roundup of the most significant news stories from Japan reported on May 12, 2019.
In advance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision on July 17 to take the 2020 Olympics national stadium construction plans back to a “zero base,” matters had been creeping along quietly and largely outside of public notice. It is therefore of considerable value to look back at the development of this slow-burning scandal so as to understand how the situation arrived at the point where it stands now.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are supposed to be a partnership between the national government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and Governor Yoichi Masuzoe is clearly determined that his voice will be heard. When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly reversed course on July 17 and decided to take the national stadium construction plans “back to zero,” he clearly didn’t make much of an effort to communicate or coordinate with the Tokyo governor.
The script has all the right drama: Two former Japanese prime ministers, deeply disappointed by their bungling successors, rise from comfortable retirement to do political battle once more. And, yes, there is good cause too.
Senior members of the Shinzo Abe administration, from the prime minister on down, have already jumped into the Tokyo gubernatorial race to insist that candidates must not appeal to the public in terms of anti-nuclear policy, but instead according to what the government believes are the most “proper” subjects, namely preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and health care policy.