PRESS RELEASE:. In a scenario reminiscent of the much loved Peter Sellers movie ‘The Mouse That Roared’ a British Man has been chosen by the residents of a small Japanese town to represent them in their battle with the mighty city of Tokyo at the International Olympics Committee (IOC) briefing taking place this week in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Paul Coleman, (54) will leave Japan tomorrow (June 15th) seeking a chance to explain to the IOC, why Tokyo does not deserve to win the 2016 Olympic Games as it now stands. His visit to Lausanne, the home of the IOC, coincides with a visit from the Tokyo 2016 bid committee led by Tokyo’s Governor Shintaro Ishihara (73) and is supported by residents from Inagi a small town within the confines of Greater Tokyo, whose forested Minamiyama mountain is being destroyed in the name of development whilst the city promises to host the ‘Greenest Olympics Ever.’
Coleman says "We hope that the IOC will understand our cause and convince the Governor of Tokyo and the Japanese 2016 bid committee that preserving the mountain and forests of Minamiyama will be a benifit to their bid and the Olympic Movement as a whole."
Governor Ishihara a giant of a politician, in charge of the biggest city on the planet, created this potential disaster for the Tokyo 2016 Bid, when he verbally attacked Coleman, the representative to the movement to save Minamiyama Mountain, for being ‘Just a foreigner’ during a press conference two weeks ago….
Residents of Inagi, which is just a ten kilometre, thirty minute train ride from the heart of Tokyo, have been trying for several years to stop the development of Minamiyama, the 87 hectare forested mountain on the edge of town. This mountain, home to wild animals not see anywhere so close to the city, features a well established forest which unlike Tokyo’s other green spaces has not been manicured to perfection. For these reasons the mountain has become popular for those wanting a quick nature break from the city.
What particularly upsets residents is that while the Government of Tokyo is flattening their mountain, the Governor is proudly pointing to a ‘Sea Forest’ being created on an 88 hectare mountain of garbage that’s been dumped into Tokyo Bay. This ‘Sea Forest’ is used extensively in the efforts to promote the 2016 Tokyo Games as ‘the greenest ever’.
Three months ago trees the began to fall in earnest and this is where Coleman, who has walked over 47,000 kilometres around the planet planting trees, enters the picture. Invited by the residents to help save their mountain, he wrote a letter to Governor Ishihara urging him to stop the Olympic contradiction of creating a forest on one hand while destroying a mountain on the other. In his letter he explained that saving the forest would benefit Tokyo’s bid for the games, while destroying it would not.
The issue could have been diffused with a polite and measured response, but Governor Ishihara raised a lot of negative attention when he dismissed the letter and the movement at a press briefing, by angrily saying, ‘Paul Coleman. He’s just a foreigner. I don’t care.’ He made matters even worse when he questioned the nationality of a leading national journalist who’s been covering the story, in a way that many saw as the equivalent of calling him a traitor to his country. In a nation where being polite is expected and nationalism is a concern of many, Governor Ishihara’s comments stirred people up in a way that perhaps nothing else could. In just a few days thousands of dollars were raised and now the battle between the Mouse and the Lion that roared is set to hit the shores of Lake Geneva.
Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro whom many have written off as host of the 2016 Olympic Games. may well have a chance after all.
Raccoon Picture Is A Scene from the much loved ‘Pom Poco’ animated movie produced by Studio Gimli in 1995. This movie tells the story of the last time the Olympics came to Tokyo and the environmental devastation that followed.