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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 September 16 - 29  > Lack of concern with costs causes ballooning of construction costs of Olympic stadium: third party panel
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2015 September 16 - 29 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Lack of concern with costs causes ballooning of construction costs of Olympic stadium: third party panel

September 28, 2015
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

A third-party panel of the Sports Ministry has compiled a report on the failure of the construction plan for a national athletic stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The report points out the responsibility of President of the Japan Sports Center (JSC) Kono Ichiro and Sports Minister Shimomura Hakubun while citing the absence of a mechanism which keeps a close eye on such a national project. Kono is going to finish up his service as JSC head at the end of this month. Shimomura will likely be replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle early next month. Both of them, however, have not clearly admitted to their responsibility for the need to withdraw the plan. Drawing a curtain over this issue with these two resignations will not placate the general public.

Since launched in August, the panel has been working to identify where the responsibility lies and what the cause for the swollen construction cost which reached 252 billion yen is. The report blames the JSC and the Sports Ministry for having an inaccurate understanding of the state-sponsored project. It also points out the absence of a mechanism that should have evaluated the project as a whole and suggested modifications at the earliest stage. Thus, it was at a very late date for the government to finally decide to withdraw the construction plan, the report concludes.

Regarding the main reason for the swollen construction cost, the report points to the non-existence of an upper limit on construction costs. The Abe Cabinet in 2013 gave the OK to use revenues from various lotteries such as soccer betting tickets in order to secure financial resources needed for the construction. This led to the dilution of a sense of ownership in the government, the report notes. The government paid little attention to the overall construction cost because it believed that it could always seek other methods to secure funds if necessary.

It was from September 2013 through the end of December 2013 when the government came to realise that the total construction cost would surpass 130 billion yen. The report states that a review of the project should have taken place during this period from scratch. At that time, the call for a review of the plan was already being voiced by many architects and concerned citizens. Yet, the Abe government operating under the “success of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics” slogan paid no heed to their concerns and warnings.

Japan still faces a mountain of problems with even the revised construction plan regarding how to reduce the total costs and how to secure enough funds. In order not to stray and make similar mistakes again, it is essential to figure out what exactly caused the failure of the previous plan and to clarify where exactly the responsibility lies.

Past related articles:
> PM Abe gives up costly Olympic stadium construction plan [ July 18, 2015]
> The proposed 252-billion-yen Olympic stadium is too costly [ June 30, 2015]
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