Table Speech

Towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

September 6, 2017

Ms. Tamayo Marukawa
Former Minister in charge of the Tokyo
Olympic and Paralympic Games
Member of the House of Councillors

 Now we have less than three years before the Opening of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. We foresee that more than 100 Heads of State will attend the Opening Ceremony scheduled to take place on July 24, 2020. This big event will call for security measures on an unprecedented scale. As such, we may need to make it a Public Holiday to avoid any confusion. It is said that 4.8 billion people around the world watched the Opening Ceremony of the London Games in 2012. I am sure many more people will do so for the Tokyo Games, taking advantage of the latest technologies besides TV broadcasting. It will be a prime opportunity, with a significant positive economic impact, to demonstrate the value of Japan to the global market and people worldwide.

 “Olympism” is the fundamental philosophy of the Olympic Games, advocated by Baron of Coubertin who initiated the modern Olympic movement. Its goal is to lay the basis for a peaceful world by educating youth through sports and cultural activities as well as promoting mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. In fact, schools and local communities in Japan have put Olympism into practice over several decades since the first Tokyo Olympics held in 1964. Japanese public schools are fully equipped with a gymnasium and a swimming pool and children enjoy PE (physical education) as a part of the core curriculum. While our country is faced with challenges associated with a super-aging society, we also have the determination, mechanism and capabilities to tackle them. I believe we can demonstrate the significance of realizing a healthy longevity society to the world through the 2020 Games.

 We have taken a positive step forward and combined Olympics and Paralympics under one organizing Committee. The 2012 London Paralympics achieved remarkable success, with tickets sold out and venues packed with spectators. I hope the 2020 Games will also serve as a cornerstone to realize a society of co-existence. Let me highlight that the Japanese Government adopted the “Universal Design 2020 Action Plan” this February to promote universal design for an inclusive society that is comfortable and accessible to everyone and to eventually break down people’s mental barriers against the disabled. The Government has also drafted a training program for companies that encourages us all to “work hand-in-hand on an equal footing” with the disabled rather than placing them as people who need protection and “a helping hand”. Starting from 2020, we will implement a new program at schools that will make students think how they can play an active role in creating an inclusive society. The International Paralympics Committee has also developed an educational material that introduces Paralympic sports. It is quite informative so I hope we adults can also use it to deepen our understanding on the philosophy of Paralympics.

 I am convinced the 2020 Games will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the progress of our country, especially recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear power plant accidents which caused hardship for the farmers in the region. Unfortunately, an import ban on agricultural products from Fukushima is still in place for some countries in Asia six years after the nuclear disaster, even when much of the produce has met the strict tolerance standards for radiation. Having served as Minister of the Environment, I strive to fight harmful rumors about radiation and send out positive messages throughout the world on food safety. It is welcoming that the baseball matches will be held in Fukushima for the 2020 Games that will prove the area’s steady path to recovery.

 Let me also touch upon the cultural impacts of hosting the Games. The Olympic Charter stipulates that a Cultural Programme must be organized through “the entire period during which the Olympic Village is open” to promote “harmonious relations, mutual understanding and friendship”. Cultural Olympiad is a programme of cultural events held throughout an Olympic host country. The London Cultural Olympiad attracted over 40 million visitors and spectators and its inbound tourism continues to grow steadily to date. It is estimated that 10 million visitors will come to Tokyo in 2020 for the Olympics and Paralympics. We should maximize every opportunity to present to the world the Japanese tradition and value handed down through many generations.

 Serving as Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, I realized that young promising talented Japanese find more opportunities to display their capabilities overseas than in Japan. At Milano Salone, a leading international design and furnishing event held every March, Japanese creators and designers receive high acclaim for their designing, artistry and craftsmanship. Unfortunately, we have failed to provide a fertile ground to attract and retain talented people from around the world. By 2020, I sincerely hope to set Tokyo as a stage that attracts multiple diverse cultures.

 As I conclude my speech, let me ask for your support and active participation to make the 2020 Games a successful sporting and cultural event. Thank you.