“What is going on in Japan?”was the gist of the email my former writing partner sent my way.  Covid out of control.  A disorganized vaccination drive.  Significant public pushback against the coming Olympics.  What gives?  Well, I asked Akemi, and this is what I learned – and wrote back…

I’ve been getting the daily updates from Akemi who reads the Japanese news and receivers the occasional info from her mother living in Osaka.  While it has gotten bad there, I don’t believe it’s AS bad as the rumors would have you believe.  Akemi’s family is still going out to restaurants and life seems fairly normal, albeit with a heightened state of alert.

The vaccine situation is weird, mainly due to problematic distribution.  Firstly, the Japanese cultural disposition to not be pushy, specifically in negotiations, has apparently resulted in their not securing an adequate number of vaccines.  Secondly, the high quality control and general suspicion of foreign products requires a rigorous approval process, and that has slowed things down.  Thirdly, there’s no such thing as targeted distribution in Japan.  It’s considered bad form to focus on hot spots as it would be deemed unfair to other prefectures that, while not hotspots, ARE combatting the virus  nevertheless.  Fourthly, the health system has exacerbated the problem because there are specific public hospitals that have been deemed Covid centers – but as the patient count has grown, private hospitals have refused to step up and allow themselves to be earmarked as such.  The government can’t force the issue as it can’t force stay at home orders.  It’s merely a suggestion a suggestion that, surprisingly, most choose to ignore.

The Olympics situation is truly fucked up.  Apparently the former head of the Japanese planning committee faced a long and hard road, convincing the Japanese to make a bid for the games.  When he started the campaign, he could barely muster 50% support but by the time he was done, support had risen to 70%.  Then, they won the games – at which point a second guy, the organizational head, came in and proceeded to fuck things up because he was a public relations disaster.  He stated he didn’t want women on the committee because they talked too much, and had to apologize for that.  But, apparently, his apology was deemed pretty shoddy by Japanese standards.  Also, during his apology, he used outdated gender terms which, apparently, demonstrated he was hopelessly out of touch, reminding people of his time as PM when he suggested cutting pension to women who didn’t have kids.  His “out of touchness” was reinforced by his constant use of the term “It”when referring to Information Technology, instead of “IT” which, for some reason, horrified many.  He was incredibly gaffe-prone and those around him dreaded every press conference.  So, he was removed.  And Tokyo is moving ahead with the games because they have already spent so much (over double the projected amount because the initial figure was just a ballpark guesstimate).

Anyway, one more reason to hate the Olympics.

Today’s Yes/No…

I’m going to have to say…


Great Dark Matter Monday chat last night with director Gail Harvey and writer Alison Hepburn.  In the unlikely event you missed it…

8 thoughts on “May 18, 2021: On Japan, Pizza Bowls, and Dark Matter Monday!

  1. State of emergency aside, activities in Japan seems to be mostly business as usual. I wish I were in Japan.

    The situation in Japan right now is confusing for sure. With less than 3% of their population vaccinated, just 2 months before the Olympics, no wonder most Japanese aren’t pleased. Recent Japanese polls showing 80% of Japanese wanting the Olympics to be cancelled. But then the contract between IOC and host city states that the IOC can cancel the game, not the host city, because Olympics technically is IOC’s “property”. There are also many clauses. One of them being if Japan unilaterally cancel the contract, then the losses would fall under the the local committee. Let’s hope they have a very good insurance for this.

    Olympics 2021 … if it proceeds, could become another covid super spreader event. Will see. Most of my friends in Japan are worried.

  2. Interesting bits about the Japanese response. Funny thing is just today I was wondering myself what the heck was going on there as they had at first seemed to have things pretty well under control. But now I think the vaccination rate is still only at something like 2%. Yikes.

    Interesting that the guy that said that women talk too much got himself into trouble by.. talking too much. Having been in IT myself my whole career, I really can’t remember anyone calling it “it” since the 1980’s, even as a joke. Wild. And yeah, it seems the Olympics continues to be a blight on almost every city that has hosted it over time, though Vancouver seemed to dodge that bullet at least somewhat. The Winter ones don’t seem quite as bad. I guess cities try to host them in order to somehow enhance their reputation? But almost every time it highlights some form of terrible organization or corruption for the city and winds up making them look worse.

    I’m trying to imagine how the pizza rice bowls would even work without being a cheesy, gloppy mess. Although that does kind of describe most pizza chain pizzas.

  3. I don’t follow any news so I’m completely oblivious to what’s happening in the world unless someone tells me about it. So thanks for the update about Japan. I hope they get their act together. If the Olympics does go ahead then I hope to see lots of empty stadia!

    I haven’t heard anyone call “I.T.” “it” before. I suppose it could be a language thing?

    Did you see this, Joe? https://variety.com/2021/digital/news/amazon-mgm-acquisition-talks-9-billion-1234975168/

    It could be a promising development for Stargate.

  4. Interesting read. Is Japan requiring vaccination proof before entering the country?

  5. One more news story and I’ll log off. Over in West Memphis they found a crack in the bridge. A complete break in one of the beams would be a better description. Looking back at pictures/videos the crack has been there since 2016 ish. This article doesn’t state that timeline but other articles do. The inspectors missed it or didn’t look. Anyhoo, this is a big deal here because it’s one of the main thoroughfares into Arkansas/Memphis. Pictures of this crack are very interesting (aka alarming). This is going to take many months of repair. 🙁 This article has the best picture. https://www.fox13memphis.com/news/local/no-timeline-when-i-40-bridge-could-reopen-officials-say/6GIZ3HIP7VF3ZCK3KGTFUY5HVQ/?fbclid=IwAR1z9E_3JYwBbVUHh1GEw1yAZesMaqBXxY7jtwqhoboMvO32fjBUpuMEY7Q

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