MUSINGS / March 1, 2018

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s March 1 issue.

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“Boys, be ambitious!” — Dr. William Clark, who left these words behind as he departed from an agricultural college in Hokkaido [in 1877], did not exactly lead a glorious life.

Novelist Yasuji Toita wrote in an essay that after returning to the United States, Dr. Clark embarked on a project to establish a college but failed. He later went into the mining business, only to go deep into debt and end his life in poverty and misery.

According to the essay, there was even a book published that branded him a fraud. However, when an earlier story is as inspiring as that of Dr. Clark, the negative aspects of it seem to vanish from history. Hearing the news that the mascots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were decided on yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about the twists and turns that led us to this point.

Prior to the selection of the ichimatsumoyo checkered patterns as mascots, there was the plagiarism row over the 2020 Olympics logo selected by the organizers. We were still feeling its aftereffects when it was announced that elementary school children would select the mascot by a vote. Done this way, they need not worry about getting criticized from any party. Whatever it was that went through the minds of the adults, I don’t think we have any choice but to say it was a success. Watching children on television, beaming in their classrooms as they awaited the results, made me forget any misgivings I may have had.

Some 200,000 classes nationwide joined the vote. This is one election that will go down in history.Speech

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