Five Islands: Games of Green, by Flora Weil
Please find below the updates on Flora’s research into the mechanics of greenwashing as seen in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Despite its clear and well-defined boundaries, an island is a blurry entity. Much like the notion of sustainability, the scales, spaces, and systems it occupies are often erased.
Five Islands: Games of Green, investigates the abstracted infrastructures produced by mechanisms of greenwashing. It takes as case study modes of representation that have contributed to both the marketed image of the 2020 Olympic Games and the fantasy of Japan as an archipelago.
1. Claim: "Natural environment and biodiversity: City within Nature/Nature within City" Counter-evidence: Satellite imagery of protected Indonesian rainforest being stripped by Korindo Group, operated by PT GMM, and supplied to Japan as source of timber for the construction of new venues such as the National Stadium.
2. Claim: "Resource Management: Zero Wasting" & "Tokyo 2020 E-waste Medal Project" Counter-evidence: Records of certified chemical e-waste refining process used to produce 2020 Olympic medals, in comparison to dangerous manual recycling process employed in Indian landfills where a majority of Japanese electronic waste is illegally exported to.
The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games suggests that it might forever remain in our imagination, incidentally reflecting Japan's use of 'fantasy' as a mechanism to curate the global event and market its culture.
This belief in valuing ideals above reality can be illustrated by the difference between two words : "tatemae" and "honne". While "tatemae" indicates the behavior and opinions one displays in public, "honne" represents one's true feelings and intent. The distinction between these two principles is far-reaching in Japanese attitudes towards identity, truth, and image.
Within the first 20 Google image search results corresponding to the word "Japan", 15 depict cherry blossoms. From major banks (Sakura Ginko) to streets named after autumn foliage, blossoms, and rivers, Japan is a champion of using heritage symbols and extolling the four seasons. Meanwhile, nearly every Japanese beach is lined with hundreds of erosion-inducing concrete tetrapods, representing an annual spending of ¥500 billion within a construction industry for which the public works budget is four times that of the USA. The discrepancy between hanami and ubiquity of sterile industrial landscapes points to the paradox of a country traditionally associated with natural harmony, whose bureaucratic systems have in fact artificialised most of its environment.
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