How the Olympics are hurting Tokyo’s economy

Toshiko Ishii, 64, who runs a traditional hotel in the city’s Taito district, spent more than $ 180,000 to convert the building’s first floor into a restaurant in anticipation of an influx of tourists.

It was already a bit risky, and when the pandemic hit, Ms Ishii worried about having to shut down. Even with the Olympics, she hasn’t had any guests for weeks.

“There is nothing you can really do about the Olympics or the coronavirus, but I’m worried,” she said. “We don’t know when this will end, and I have a lot of doubts about how long we can continue to operate the business.”

Pandemic or not, reality was doomed to fall short of the high expectations set by Japanese leaders.

They presented Tokyo 2020 as an opportunity to show the world a Japan that emerged from decades of economic stagnation and the devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that sparked the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Calling on nostalgia for the 1964 Olympics, when Japan wowed the world with its advanced technology and economic strength, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pitched the 2020 Olympics as an advertising campaign for a cool and confident country that was the equal of a booming country. China.

After decades of perceived decline, “more and more Japanese, the older generation, the elderly, wanted to remember, wanted to repeat this successful experience in 21st century Japan,” said Shunya Yoshimi, professor of sociology at the ‘University of Tokyo who has written several books on Japan’s relationship to events.

Instead, the pandemic has brought a sense of fear and uncertainty that has been compounded by the decisions of Japanese leaders.

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