Japan’s hi-tech Olympic teaser amazes China, despite Abe

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/23 0:43:40 Last Updated: 2016/8/23 6:56:54

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Japan's high-tech eight-minute presentation at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games on Sunday night in Rio de Janeiro has whetted the appetite of Chinese netizens for Tokyo 2020 Monday, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's unusual cameo as video game character Super Mario, which comes amid worries over souring Sino-Japan ties.

Abe emerged from a large green pipe, after transforming into Super Mario and tunneling from his limousine in Tokyo to Rio. He held a glowing red ball and doffed his cap to audiences.

A short film montage given by Tokyo 2020 organizers showcased famous anime and video game characters including Pac-Man, Hello Kitty and the blue robot cat Doraemon who conjured the green pipe out of his magic pocket for Abe.

Many Chinese netizens of a certain age remember these characters fondly from their childhood, and many say they are looking forward to the Tokyo Games.

"The presentation is so lovely … Japan has turned into my favorite country from the most detestable one in my youth. Wish to go to Tokyo in 2020," Sina Weibo user "History teacher Wang Sanshi" commented on Monday.

Many expressed that aside from historical and political issues, they had to admit Japan's eight-minute presentation was creative and impressive.

Japanese animation and video games amazed Chinese people born in the 1980s and 1990s, a soft power that "promoted frequent exchanges between Chinese and Japanese people," Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of international relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

The fancy hi-tech displayed in the Japanese presentation also excited Chinese netizens.

After Abe's appearance, a gymnastics team from Aomori University then performed with computer-generated imagery to showcase Japan's technology.

"We're amazed by the rapid development of augmented reality technology and this makes us expect more from the Olympic Games four years later," read a post on Sina Weibo by GeekPark, an online forum dedicated to reporting cutting-edge information technology.

Tourists living around the Olympic Village in Tokyo can opt to hang out with robot helpers of all types that recommend the best transport, food and entertainment options in Tokyo, CNN reported on Monday.

Bittersweet ties

Abe's impersonation, however, was considered by a majority of Chinese netizens to be a fatal blunder during the dazzling show.

"The animation elements are a feast for my eyes. But my eyes stung once he popped out," Sina Weibo user "Hey-CM_" commented on Monday.

In spite of the pop-culture exchanges and an influx of Chinese tourists to Japan, diplomatic discord has always been an obstacle that cannot be gotten around to pull the two peoples closer, Zhou noted.

Chinese netizens' high expectations for the Tokyo Games could be reduced to another boycott of Japan and its products, if tensions between China and Japan build up, he pointed out, explaining that Abe's right-wing government will continue to take provocative measures against China, such as the increasing military budget and Abe's push for constitutional revision.

China-Japan ties reached a new low in September 2012 when Japan tried to "nationalize" the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Massive anti-Japan protests were staged in many cities across China shortly after.

The following years under right-wing politician Abe's rule have been even bumpier as mistrust grew between the two countries.

The Japanese Defense Ministry unveiled on Friday its request for a record budget of 5.16 trillion yen ($51 billion) for 2017 to allay worries over China's increasing patrols in the East China Sea to show its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

Despite the tensions, the world's second- and third-largest economies are still trying to smooth over the discord to continue their trade relations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will join his counterparts from Japan and South Korea in Tokyo on Wednesday to discuss cooperation and strive to establish an East Asia Economic Community by 2020, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Monday.

Posted in: Diplomacy, Asia-Pacific

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