It’s 1940 all over again

When the coronavirus pandemic hit and talk started of postponing the Olympics in February 2020, at least one Japanese politician, Adolph Hitler fan boy Taro Aso I believe, said, “These are the cursed Olympics of the 40-year cycle.”

He was referring to the 1980 Moscow games, boycotted by Japan and other U.S. allies to protest Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, and the 1940 Tokyo — and later Helsinki — games that were interrupted by World War II. He was particularly upset that Tokyo should lose two Olympics due to causes beyond its control, although Japan actually gave up the 1940 games in 1939 because it wanted to use its resources for its war on the continent.

But what really brings us back to 1940, is not the games that didn’t happen but the war that did. Japan at that time was busy exploiting Manchuria, relocating excess population there in order to relocate the region’s natural resources. That of course led to escalation and war with China and trade sanctions.

When those trade sanctions were expanded to include crude oil, Japan was faced with a national defense time bomb. Without more oil, the Imperial Navy was counting the number days before it could no longer defend the nation. The answer, was of course a negotiated settlement, but that would require the Imperial Army to stand down.

The army already knew it was overextended in China and threatened by Russia in Manchuria but wanted to earn political points at the expense of the navy by having the navy’s cowardice become the public excuse for ending the conflict.

Neither the army or the navy had any doubts about the outcome of a war with the United States, so the navy was as certain the army would cooperate to avoid that calamity as the army was that the navy would go lose face rather than fight an unwinnable war.

Both sides miscalculated and sat there like truculent children at every Imperial conference, hoping the young Emperor would save them from themselves, but he didn’t and the thing everyone wanted to avoid the most came to pass.

Japan now finds itself at a similar crossroads.

It can cut its losses and move forward or it can press through with the Tokyo Olympics that nobody really thinks is a good idea. The ones who pulled the plug 14 months ago, the national federations of the United States, are good to go, because their interests — the health of their athletes — have been secured by the IOC.

Sure, overseas federations may be worried about the burden the games are going to place on the Japanese public, but that concern rightly belongs to the decision makers in Tokyo. If it were unsafe, the federations’ leaders think, Japan would pull the plug to protect its residents.

In case you’re wondering, people have asked the Japanese government if it could cancel, and the government, like it did when asked a year ago if it could take stronger proactive measures against the coronavirus, said it was not possible. “It’s against the law,” the lawmakers said.

Now, these same hacks say, “The Olympics don’t belong to us. They belong to the IOC and only the IOC can cancel them.”

But that’s the Imperial Navy asking the Imperial Army to help it out of a jam, when the Imperial Army, or in this case, IOC President Thomas Bach, has no interest in doing so.

No. There is absolutely no chance a Japanese government will stand up and do what’s right, and zero chance that Bach will help them do what’s right. The only thing that’s going to save Japan from itself is for Japanese citizens to appeal not to their own government but to appeal to those who can ACTUALLY make a difference, America’s powerful swimming and athletics federations.

Without them, there is no U.S. TV money and no Olympics. Why should the U.S. sports federations care about Japan’s citizens. They shouldn’t really, but given the government’s actions here so far, it would be hard to imagine anyone cares less for Japan’s residents than its own government does. So we beg you America, once more do the Japanese people a huge favor and save them from their own government.

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