Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is behind this heinous Olympic scandal

TOKYO — When the opening ceremony of the Olympics took place on July 23, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the man who sealed Japan’s bid for the Games, was conspicuously absent, but he was present in spirit. .

Despite multiple warnings, music from Abe’s longtime ally and donor, homophobic and ultra-nationalist composer Koichi Sugiyama, was played during the opening athlete’s march. The move sparked global outrage, but it wasn’t just an unfortunate coincidence: it was something Abe, as Honorary Olympic Advisor, had personally requested, according to an employee of the Tokyo Organizing Committee. 2020 who spoke with The Daily Beast.

“Sugiyama’s composition was the first of the 19 video game songs used, because Abe considered it the most important. That’s what we were told, ”the employee, speaking on condition of anonymity due to a nondisclosure agreement, told The Daily Beast.

Sugiyama, best known for creating the music for the famous “Dragon Quest” video game franchise, is known for all manner of hateful political statements and positions, including siding with viciously homophobic politicians, denying mass slaughter. perpetrated by the Japanese army. , and falsely stating that no Korean woman was used as a sex slave in Japan during WWII.

“Every stupid shit request was internally called ‘something-something anken.’ You had the ‘IOC-anken’, the ‘[Tokyo Governor Yuriko] Koike-anken ‘and, of course, the’ Abe-anken ‘, ”the employee said. When it was reported to the committee that Sugiyama’s toxic personal opinions could tarnish the event, Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Toshiro Muto reportedly told the employee, “This is Abe’s request. Do it.”

So why would the former prime minister bend down to have Sugiyama’s music presented at the Games?

It turns out that Abe, 66, and Sugiyama, 90, are not just ideological allies who share similar controversial views, including denouncing Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution and denying that Japan has never committed war crimes. And it’s not just friends who dine together in chic French-Japanese fusion restaurants or sometimes do each other critics fired of their jobs.

The duo, it seems, have a patron-client relationship that goes back several years. According to public documents reviewed by The Daily Beast, Sugiyama has donated more than $ 75,000 to Abe since 2011. Income and expense reports from Abe’s political fund management organizations show the musician did a donation of 1.5 million yen ($ 14,000) to Abe in 2016 alone. 2012 interview with FRIDAY magazine, the composer went into great detail about “putting his private property in support of Abe”.

It was a never-ending series of changes and incidents.

– Tokyo Organizing Committee employee.

Monolithic advertising employee goliath Dentsu, the exclusive marketing partner of the Olympics, told the Daily Beast that he was also aware of Abe-Sugiyama’s situation ahead of the Olympic ceremony.

“Of course, we knew the controversy was brewing. By the end of June, people had heard the music for “Dragon Quest” [composed by Sugiyama] play during rehearsals, and a website wrote a very long song how problematic the use of Sugiyama was, saying it would shame Japan, ”the staff member said. “It was all over the internet. A few newspapers sniffed at him and asked questions. We’ve all been told to say to the press, “Oh, that’s just practice music. “

The Daily Beast also spoke to someone who helped compile the opening ceremony press kit, who said the songs were listed but the names of their composers were not. “The top brass didn’t want the media to sniff around and be put on the spot. So it was kind of a half-silly cover-up, ”the source said.

The decision to use Sugiyama’s music sparked a series of behind-the-scenes drama, insiders explained.

Nintendo, aware that the event was a time bomb, withdrew at the last minute. None of their songs have been played. They decided they didn’t want to be involved in the upcoming fiasco in any way, ”a Dentsu employee told The Daily Beast. “They probably regret letting Abe [who is currently under investigation by the Tokyo Prosecutors for election law violations and other charges] appear as Mario. Not a good look now.

Adding to that, Square Enix, the video game creator of “Dragon Quest,” also publicly distanced himself from Sugiyama in 2018, noting that his views did not reflect the company’s values. “As a policy, we do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind and we respect the diversity of sexuality and gender identity of everyone in the world,” the company told the era.

Shinzo Abe did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast, and instead blocked the author of this article on Twitter. The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee has also not answered questions as of this writing.

The former prime minister has a reputation for avoiding the press, for having spent 49 days without holding a single press conference last summer. He is also the only prime minister in Japanese history to have been censored for “Make false statements” 118 times by parliament, for which he later apologized. The apology was not quite enough for the Prosecution Review Commission, which concluded last week that Tokyo prosecutors should re-investigate Abe on the charges relating to these lies.

When Tsunekazu Takeda, the former president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, first asked Abe to become a senior advisor in January 2013, he gladly agreed. “Because my grandfather also took on the role of first counselor [for winning the bid for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics] and I succeeded, I also wish to succeed, ”said Abe at the time. The former prime minister reportedly envisioned a successful Olympics giving him enough popularity and political clout change the constitution of Japan.

The “bitter experience” of planning the Games went beyond the Abe scandal, according to the Tokyo organizing committee employee who spoke to The Daily Beast. The staff member described the ordeal as “an endless series of changes and incidents. Anytime we had a decent storyline or plan, there would be a new demand from the top ranks to add this or add that or remove that.

Abe has ambitions to make a comeback as prime minister again.

– Koichi Nakano, professor of Japanese politics at Sophia University.

The employee explained that in 2017, the original team for the opening and closing ceremony consisted of eight people. However, the talented members resigned or were kicked out one by one. In December 2020, the Olympic Committee dismantled the eight-member team and put Hiroshi sasaki, a former sales manager of Dentsu, in charge. Sasaki himself was forced to resign after the weekly, Shukan bunshun, reported that he offered to stage a skit with plus size TV personality Naomi Watanabe wearing pig ears, calling it “The Olympig”.

Despite the onslaught of scandals plaguing the Games, Professor Koichi Nakano, an expert on Japanese politics at Sophia University, is not surprised that Sugiyama’s music was presented at the opening ceremony. “Sugiyama has far-right revisionist views and is a close supporter of Shinzo Abe. Abe clearly wanted to send a signal to his revisionist supporters that the Olympics were also a celebration of their views, ”he told the Daily Beast.

Nakano also offered a theory as to why Abe has kept such a low profile in recent weeks, without even congratulating Japan’s many gold medalists on Twitter.

“Abe has the ambition to make a comeback as prime minister again,” he said. “And he didn’t want to be too closely associated with Tokyo 2020, which was becoming a major health hazard, as well as a public relations disaster.”

Chihiro Kai contributed to this story.

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