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Successful Olympics bid, Mt. Fuji designation Japan's bright spots in 2013

Publication Date : 30-12-2013

 

Apparently indicating the high hopes many people have for Olympic Games seven years ahead, readers of The Yomiuri Shimbun awarded first place on the list of “Japan’s top 10 news stories” this year to Tokyo winning the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

This means 56 years will have elapsed since Tokyo hosted the Olympics in 1964.

The 1964 Olympiad served as a key factor behind the nation’s high economic growth. The coming Games are expected to act as a catalyst for this country’s reinvigoration. Every possible effort should be made to ensure that the Summer Games and Paralympics are successful.

With Naoki Inose being forced to resign as governor of Tokyo over his receipt of a dubious 50 million yen (US$475,000) loan—16th on the domestic news list—personnel affairs concerning the organising committee of the Games and progress on relevant matters have been left up in the air. It is extremely important for all quarters concerned to carry out concerted efforts to make the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics successful.

The initial design for the new National Athletic Stadium, the main venue of the Games’ competitions, is scheduled to be scaled down after the original plan came under criticism for being extravagant. It is essential to construct new facilities and refurbish existing ones for the Games without wasteful spending.

Second on the list of top 10 news items was Unesco recognition of Mt. Fuji as a cultural World Heritage site. All components of cultural heritage relating to Mt. Fuji, including the Miho no Matsubara coastline in Shizuoka Prefecture, have been certified as “treasures of the world.”

The beauty of Mt. Fuji and its environs must be left intact for posterity. Regulations were tightened in summer this year on car traffic in the Mt. Fuji area and a fee was experimentally levied on people who wanted to climb the sacred peak. Further endeavours should be made for the environmental conservation of the country’s loftiest mountain and its vicinity.

Many challenges ahead

In pro baseball, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles’ victory in the Japan Series for the first time placed fourth in the list, while the unbroken winning streak by Rakuten pitcher Masahiro Tanaka ranked eighth.

The triumph of Rakuten gave a great deal of encouragement to victims in the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, as its home ground is in Sendai. Tanaka, who was the major driving force of Rakuten capturing the highest accolade in Japan’s pro baseball world, is just entering negotiations on moving to a US Major League Baseball team. We hope to see Tanaka performing brilliantly in the United States.

The news that baseball legends Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui received the People’s Honor Award from the government ranked fifth on the list.

Nagashima has made great contributions to developing professional baseball into Japan’s national sport. Matsui, a former slugger for the Yomiuri Giants and the New York Yankees, thrilled baseball fans with his huge home runs.

The scene of Nagashima and his disciple Matsui in Giants’ uniforms performing in an opening pitch ceremony in celebration of their winning of the People’s Honor Award must have engraved itself deeply in people’s memories.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s success in ending the divided Diet after the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito garnered a majority of seats in the House of Councillors election in July placed third on the top 10 list. This achievement was conducive to increasing the Abe Cabinet’s stability.

On the other hand, Japan faces many challenges.

The decision to raise the consumption tax to 8 per cent, which will be put into force in April, placed seventh. Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade liberalisation, ranked ninth, are destined to continue next year after failing to be concluded this year.

It is imperative for the government to ensure that the signs of business pickup thanks to the Abe administration’s Abenomics package of economic policies will lead to full-fledged recovery of the nation’s business activities. We strongly hope 2014 will prove to be a year when we can really feel the economy rejuvenating.

A number of natural calamities occurred this year, such as mudslides on Izu-Oshima Island, sixth on the list.

We must keep up our guard against disasters.

 

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