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Tokyo To Offer ‘Toiler Tours’ After International Interest Sparked By Oscar Nominated Film, Perfect Days 

Japan’s high-tech toilets have consistently been a major point of interest for tourists. Tokyo has now capitalized on a recent spark in international interest in Japan’s toilets from the Oscar nominated film, Perfect Days, from German director Wim Wenders, which follows the story of a toilet cleaner in Tokyo.

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South Korea And Japan Reach Deal Over Wartime Labor Disputes

This week, South Korea announced a new deal that will compensate the nation’s forced labor victims from Japan’s occupation of Korea. The two nations have been working to better their relationship due to increased security situations. 

“[This is] a groundbreaking new chapter of cooperation and partnership between two of the United States’ closest allies,” said US President Joe Biden. 

Park Jin, South Korea’s Foreign Minister, announced on Monday that the government’s Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization by Imperial Japan will financially compensate 15 victims or their family members using private donations. 

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The decision also follows a 2018 South Korean Supreme Court ruling that stated Japan’s Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry should compensate 100 million Korean won ($77,000) to each of the 15 South Korean victims who were mobilized between 1940 to 1945 during Japan’s occupation. 

Today, only three of those 15 victims are still alive, and all of them are in their 90s. 

“We welcome the measures announced by the South Korean government today as a way to restore a healthy relationship between Japan and South Korea, which has been in a very difficult situation since South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling in 2018,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

“The measures announced by the South Korean government are not on the premise that Japanese companies will contribute to the foundation (in South Korea). The Japanese government doesn’t have any particular stance on voluntary donations by individuals or private companies both in Japan and abroad,” he said according to CNN.

Back in 2018, Japan didn’t agree with the South Korean Supreme Court decision, and no compensation has been paid, leading to increased tensions between the two nations. Japan began restricting exports of materials to South Korea while South Korea disposed of its military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo.

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While the two countries signed a treaty in 1965 meant to settle any lingering issues between them, tensions remained, and South Korea’s military dictatorship at the time led many citizens to feel like the deal wasn’t fair. 

Current South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol has been working hard to mend the relationship, specifically between Seol and Tokyo. The administration wants the two US allies to be on the best terms possible due to an increase in security risks coming from North Korea and their multiple missile tests. 

“Under Yoon, South Korea has been striving to come up with a reasonable solution that is in the common interest of both countries, while respecting the opinions of the forced labor victims,” Foreign Minister Park said Monday.

“I think we need to break the vicious cycle for the people in terms of national interest without neglecting such a prolonged strained relationship between South Korea and Japan,” Park said.

Biden stated that both nations were “taking a critical step to forge a future for the Korean and Japanese people that is safer, more secure, and more prosperous.”

Corey Wallace, an East Asia politics and security analyst at Kanagawa University in Japan, said he sees Monday’s “agreement as an outgrowth of Yoon’s much bolder embrace of Japan as a ‘partner’ over the last nine months.

Both sides have started to adjust their perceptions of the value of trilateral security cooperation and the costs of bilateral antagonism vis-a-vis North Korea. It is also related to broader concerns in both countries about the sustainability of the US military posture in East Asia given both military developments in North Korea and China and recent events in Europe,” Wallace stated. 

Same Sex Marriage

Japan Courts Say Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Is Constitutional 

A Japanese court ruled this week that a ban on same-sex marriage is not considered unconstitutional, marking a major setback to LGBTQ rights in the only Group Of Seven nations that does not allow same-sex marriages. 

Three same-sex couples filed the original suit in a district court in Osaka. The courts rejected the claim that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, as well as rejected the couples demands for 1 million yen ($7,600) in damages. Machi Sakata, who was able to marry her partner legally in the US, spoke to the media about the ruling. 

“I actually wonder if the legal system in this country is really working. I think there’s the possibility this ruling may really corner us in the community.”

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Japan’s constitution defines marriage as “being based on the mutual consent of both sexes.” There’s been a major rise in LGBTQ advocacy throughout Japan as of late, leaving many citizens hopeful that this court case would rule in favor of the community.

However, the Osaka court ruled that “marriage is defined as being only between opposite genders,” and not enough debating has occurred within Japan to make a proper ruling over same-sex marriage. 

“We emphasized in this case that we wanted same-sex couples to have access to the same things as regular couples,” said lawyer Akiyoshi Miwa, who also claimed they would be appealing the court’s decision. 

While Japanese law in general is considered to be fairly liberal when compared to other Asian law standards, Taiwan is the only country to have legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in the continent. 

The current law in Japan states that same-sex couples cannot get legally married, are not allowed to inherit each other’s assets, and cannot gain parental rights over each other’s children. 

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Partnership certificates in the country allow same-sex couples to rent property together and have hospital visitation rights, but it doesn’t compare to the full legal rights granted to heterosexual couples in the nation.

The Tokyo prefectural government made some strides in protecting LGBTQ rights last week when they passed a bill that would recognize same-sex partnership agreements. This means more than half of the population in Japan will have the ability to gain recognition for their partnerships from local governments. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida claimed that the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage needs to be carefully considered, however, his party has made no set plans to review the matter or propose new legislation. 

Masa Yanagisawa is the head of prime services at Goldman Sachs and a board member for the LGBTQ activist group “Marriage For All Japan,” who stated that legalizing same-sex marriage would have “far-reaching implications both socially and economically, as well as help attract foreign firms to the world’s third biggest economy.” 

“International firms are reviewing their Asian strategy and LGBTQ inclusivity is becoming a topic. International businesses don’t want to invest in a location that isn’t LGBTQ-friendly,” Yanagisawa stated before the verdict this week.

Paralympics Bar All Fans From Attendance Due To Covid-19 Concerns

Just as all fans were recently banned from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, organizers for the Paralympics this year announced that all spectators will be barred from the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the Olympics some fans were able to spectate from outlying areas away from Tokyo, however, for the Paralympics organizers are planning on barring all fans with the exception of some children for a couple of events. Organizers are also telling the public not to come out to view any road events. 

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International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa all met last week to finalize these decisions before announcing it to the public. 

The Paralympics begin on August 24th with about 4,400 athletes projected to participate. The Olympics this year had around 11,000 athletes, so the smaller scale should hopefully make it easier for organizers to manage health and safety procedures. 

The announcement also comes as Japan, and Tokyo specifically, sees a rise in Covid-19 case numbers. Parsons spoke at a news conference where he proclaimed that there was no room for complacency in the wake of the Olympics. 

“In light of the current case numbers in Tokyo and wider Japan, everyone attending these games must be vigilant.” 

New Covid-19 infections tripled in Tokyo throughout the 17-day period that the Olympics were occuring, however, local health expert’s haven’t directly linked the rise in cases to the Games themselves. Experts instead believe that the Olympic games caused a lot of the public to get distracted and put them into a false sense of security. 

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced this week that a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas will be extended until September 12th; the current state of emergency has been in place since July 12th and was initially meant to end later this month. 

“The surge in infections is reaching alarming record highs,” Suga said.

This past Friday Tokyo logged around 5,800 new cases, and on Sunday it logged about 4,300 more. This rise in infections has put an extreme strain on Japan’s healthcare system and its workers.

Dr. Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, said in an interview that “a significant number of people are still unvaccinated, and characterized the virus situation for the Paralympics as worse than it was during the Olympics.”

About 37% of the Japanese population is thought to be fully vaccinated at this point. Ozaki said the decision to not have fans at the Paralympics was a “minimum necessity, holding the event in general is a political decision, but the judgement by the medical side is that it will be difficult. 

“The Olympics is a festival and might have affected the people in ways to loosen up and served as an indirect cause of rising cases.”

Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles Pulls Out Of Olympics Due To Medical Issue 

Simone Biles has suddenly pulled out of all Olympic competitions due to a medical issue. This update comes after the US Women’s gymnastics team took silver in the women’s team final, right behind Russia. 

This marks the first time in a decade that the US women’s team has not come out of the international competition with gold. They’ve managed to win every single Olympics and World Championships event since 2011. 

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Biles’ departure from competition was a major blow to the team. She was originally expected to compete on all four apparatuses for the competition, but her teammates stepped in for her on the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. 

The final score for the Russia Olympic Committee was 169.528 and the US scored 166.096. Great Britain won the bronze overall. USA Gymnastics recently released a statement regarding Biles. 

“Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.” 

Biles remained in the arena after being pulled from the competition to cheer on her teammates and celebrate their strong performances. Biles was not limping terribly while celebrating with her team, so onlookers are hopeful that she will be able to make a recovery, but no one knows the full extent of what the medical issue even is. 

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Jordan Chiles stepped in for Biles on the uneven bars and balance beam and Sunisa Lee competed on the floor exercise. Chiles managed to land a 14.166 on uneven bars and Lee earned a 15.4, which helped the team advance exponentially. 

During floor exercise, Chiles experienced a fall that led to her receiving an 11.7, the combined scores from all the performances overall were not enough to surpass Russia. 

It’s still unclear whether or not Biles will be able to compete later on in the competition for either individual events or the all-around individual final; which she won at the Olympics five years ago. 

Biles initially qualified for all five individual finals in Tokyo. 

“I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!” she said on Instagram ahead of the team final.

Olympic Athletes Will Put On Their Own Medals This Year To Prevent Spreading Of Covid-19 

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach announced this week that all athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks as a means of protecting themselves and others from the Covid-19 virus. 

“The medals will not be given around the neck. They will be presented to the athlete on a tray, and then the athlete will take the medal to him or herself.”

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“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” Bach explained. 

Many individuals in the industry were wondering what the medal ceremonies would look like this year, considering Japan is currently enduring another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Delta variant of Covid-19. 

In Europe, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been personally hanging medals around the necks of all players involved in the competition finals. He also shook hands with Italy’s standout goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and other all star players. 

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Bach, however, confirmed this Wednesday that during the 2021 Tokyo Games there will be no hand shaking or hugs allowed during the ceremony. This marks just one of the many changes the International Olympic Committee is going to have to continue to endure for deciding to move forward with the Games this year. 

Many of the residents of Japan are adamantly against hosting the Olympic Games this year, considering the world is still very much battling the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the rollouts of multiple vaccines internationally. 

Vaccination rates are different in every country, so the thought of bringing in thousands of individuals from hundreds of countries all with different vaccination and infection rates, has most Japanese citizens worried for the health of their country; especially considering they’re currently in lockdown and the Games are set to begin in less than two weeks. 

It’s still unclear what other modifications will be made to the Games this year. Covid-19 infection rates are still on the rise in Tokyo and Japan in general, and while the IOC has taken a multitude of measures to protect all athletes and staff involved in the Olympics, it’s unclear how smoothly this event will go considering all that’s at stake.

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Declares Covid-19 State Of Emergency Two Weeks Before Olympic Games 

The Tokyo Olympics will still be happening later this month despite the fact that Japan has just entered into another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. The Japanese government announced this week that it would be reinstating strict health and safety measures that will take effect next week and last throughout the Olympic Games. 

The biggest measure that’s being taken is that no spectators will be allowed to attend the games, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced this morning. Japanese media outlets reported that all venues in and around Tokyo will be completely unattended.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 920 new Covid cases just 16 days before the Games. This is 200 more than any other single-day total since May. This Thursday the country reported another 896 cases. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to protect the nation as much as possible from further spreading. 

“New infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it. I vow to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the infections.”

“I think we can all be very satisfied that the strict measures, having been established to protect everybody — the Japanese people and the participants of the Games — have proven to be successful,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. 

Olympic organizers have outlined a plan that will enforce a “complex web of Covid countermeasures that will limit contact between Olympic participants and non-participant Japanese citizens,” according to Bach. 

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The measures will force “Level 1” participants (athletes, coaches, team officials and more) to be tested daily, and other levels of participation will be tested based on how often they’re in common Olympic spaces. 

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical advisor, warned of “continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on [Japan’s] medical systems.”

Olympic Organizers claimed that “in the event that a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing infection are implemented at any time after July 12, restrictions on spectator numbers at the Games, including non-spectator competitions, will be based on the content of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in force at that time.” It was officially announced today that no spectators would be allowed at the Games. 

 Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike promised that her city would “control the flow of people and be thorough with regard to measures to prevent infection during and around the Games.”

Japanese residents have been adamant in their disapproval of the Games still occurring this year despite the fact that so many countries have such different vaccination and infection rates.

The Rules Athletes Will Need To Follow To Participate In The 2021 Olympic Games 

The Olympics are officially going to happen this year on July 23rd in Tokyo, Japan. After the Games were postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals behind-the-scenes have been working hard this past year to make sure these Games happen as safely and efficiently as possible, which means all the athletes will need to abide by a strict set of rules to keep themselves and others safe. 

11,500 athletes are expected to travel to Japan from hundreds of countries this July. Additionally, about 79,000 journalists, officials, and staff will be in attendance. 

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The individuals working behind the scenes have created an official list of rules that all parties involved must follow to avoid being potentially barred from competing or having their credentials completely stripped. 

The International Olympic Committee announced last month that Pfizer would be donating Covid-19 vaccines to all athletes and country delegates before they travel to Japan. While taking the vaccine isn’t a requirement for attending and participating in the Games, it’s highly encouraged for obvious safety reasons. 

All competitors from outside Japan must be tested for Covid-19 twice, on two separate days within 96 hours of their flight to Japan, they will then be tested again upon arrival. Athletes will be expected to download an app that will monitor their location and be used for contact tracing purposes as well. 

Athletes will also be required to quarantine for three days after they arrive. They will be allowed to participate in Game related activities during quarantine as long as they continue to test negative; they will be tested daily. 

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Athletes will also be required to do daily reporting of their temperature and any potential symptoms that appear within the app. Temperatures will be checked upon entry to every Olympic venue. 

If an athlete does test positive for the virus, they will immediately go into isolation and their apps will be used to contact and trace any other individual they may have been in contact with. 

Social distancing protocols will also be enforced as all athletes will be competing at least six-and-a-half feet apart from each other. All physical interactions are discouraged as a means of preventing potential spreading of the virus. 

Athletes will be able to eat within the Olympic village or at specially-permitted venues and locations; they won’t be able to explore Japan during their downtime. 

Unless athletes are eating, drinking, sleeping, training, or competing, they will also be expected to wear a mask the whole time they’re at the Games. These rules will ideally keep all athletes, journalists, and behind the scenes workers safe and healthy throughout the entirety of the summer Games.

Tokyo Olympics Will Likely Be A Fan-Free Event 

The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee alluded to the strong possibility that the 2021 Summer Games will likely bar local fans from attending. Fans from abroad were barred from the event months ago due to Covid-19 risks, and the committee has less than two months to decide whether or not the locals of Japan will be able to attend. 

Regardless of what the committee decides, however, a majority of Japanese residents have been adamant about their disapproval of the Olympic Games from occurring this year. Multiple surveys have shown that more than half of the citizens of Japan want the Games to be cancelled or postponed another year due to safety concerns. 

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Beyond the obvious concerns over bringing in groups of people from every single country in the world to one small venue, the Japanese government recently extended a state of emergency until June 20th due to a rise in Covid-19 cases that’s straining the country’s medical system. 

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are insisting that they will be going ahead with the games this year, despite the multiple polls showing 60% – 80% of Japanese residents want them called off. 

“We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.

“There are many people who are saying that for the Olympic Games we have to run without spectators, although other sports are accepting spectators. So we need to keep that in mind. We need to avoid that the local medical services are affected. We need to take those things into consideration before agreeing on the spectator count.”

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Over 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to come into Japan for the 2021 Olympic Games. The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote an op-ed regarding the IOC and their adamant attitude in relation to making the Games happen this year. 

“We believe the IOC’s determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence. Organizers should reconsider holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.”

Japan experienced around 12,500 deaths due to Covid-19, and that number has not stopped growing. The vaccination rollouts in Japan began slowly, and currently only about 5% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

Japan has spent about $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and Richard Pound, senior IOC member, told a British newspaper that the games will take place unless “Armageddon” occurs. IOC president Thomas Bach claimed that “everyone in the Olympic community needs to make sacrifices if we want to hold the Games this year,” despite the fact that a majority of Japanese residents have made it clear that they want the opposite of that.

Tokyo Olympics

80% Of Japanese Residents Oppose Hosting The Olympic Games Due To Covid-19 Concerns 

As Japan continues to battle a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, citizens are making their voices heard and telling authority figures that they don’t agree with hosting a worldwide event that will prompt individuals traveling from all over the world to one contained stadium location/ Olympic village. 

The latest survey comes just 10 weeks before the Games are projected to begin, Japan also recently expanded their coronavirus state of emergency to combat the fourth wave they’re currently enduring. 

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Medical professionals in Japan have repeatedly warned government officials that the healthcare industry is being overrun; not to mention the fact that healthcare workers are also getting sick which means there’s less professionals in the nation to help combat the new cases. 

Asahi Shimbun is the paper responsible for the survey, which found that 43% of the respondents want the Games to be totally cancelled, while 40% want it to be postponed again. The paper performed the same survey one month ago, and the most recent results show a 35% increase in those who want a postponement or complete cancellation. 

The poll surveyed a little more than 1,500 residents, of which only about 14% still supported the Games being held in Tokyo this summer. If the Games continue as planned, 59% of the respondents claim they want the event to enforce no spectators, while 33% said they would be okay with a limited capacity policy. 

Ever since it was announced that Tokyo rescheduled the 2020 Summer Olympic Games to this summer the citizens of Japan have been adamant about their disapproval, especially since the world is still battling the Covid-19 virus despite the rollout of multiple vaccines. 

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Kyodo News is a separate paper that also polled Japanese citizens, and they found that about 60% of all respondents want a complete cancellation of the Games; Kyodo News didn’t offer “postponement” as an option either. 

Olympic organizers have claimed multiple times that they’re taking all of the necessary anti-virus measures to protect all parties and athletes involved in the Games. However, the Kyodo poll found that about 88% of respondents worry that the presence of thousands of athletes and staff members from around the world will only further spread the virus and its multiple variants that now exist. 

Japan has seen a much smaller virus outbreak when compared to other countries, with only experiencing 115,000 deaths, however, the country is relatively smaller than the other nation’s that have experienced heavy waves of infections and death. 

The Kyodo Poll also found that 85% of respondents think the Japanese government’s rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has been slow, and 72% said they were unhappy with the government’s handling of the entire pandemic.