Special quick-flushing toilets, granny rap and a self-imposed brothel ban: Japan’s Osaka is determined to paint itself in the best possible light for the G20 leaders’ summit starting today.
With a meaty agenda including global trade and geopolitical hotspots such as Iran and North Korea, the hosts are keen that world leaders are not caught short in the world-famous Japanese toilets.
They are showcasing the latest in toilet technology and have shaved down the time to refill the cistern from 1 minute to 20 seconds for the busy world leaders — also reducing the water usage with the environment part of the G20 agenda.
Residents of Japan’s second city are proud of their reputation for being straight-talking and having a wicked sense of humor, in contrast to the rest of the nation often seen as shy, overly polite and cautious.
To welcome the leaders, a local “idol” group of singers known as “Obachaaan” — whose members are women mostly in their 70s — released a rap video to showcase local attractions, delicacies and culture.
Restaurants in the area are offering G20-themed dishes such as takoyaki, a delicacy unique to Osaka that features fried pieces of chopped octopus in batter.
To appeal to some of the estimated 30,000 officials and journalists from around the world, certain restaurants are sprinkling these octopus balls with garnishes from G20 nations — caviar for Russia and BBQ sauce for the US for example.
Even sex workers have decided to do their bit, volunteering to close all the area’s brothels for the first time since the 1989 funeral of Japanese emperor Hirohito.
All 159 establishments in the traditional red-light district of Tobita-Shinchi are to close during the global event in a bid to offer a squeaky clean G20 image.
“We wanted to support the G20 in our own way,” said the head of the neighborhood association, who asked not to be identified.
Showcasing Osaka’s best face is in the city’s long-term interest as it prepares to host the 2025 Expo, as well as attempting to lure an international casino to the area, he said.
“This may not bring a direct benefit to us, but if this somehow contributes to Osaka as a whole, it will bring benefits somewhere. I am sure of it,” he added.
Businesses are to close during the summit today and tomorrow, but already establishments had lowered the patterned white drapes to avoid any visitors taking offense at what lies within.
As for the Japanese government, it is not leaving anything to chance even with the nation virtually free of violent crime and mercifully spared some of the terrorist atrocities that have struck many nations.
About 32,000 police officers along with 60 coast guard ships with more than 1,000 officers have been deployed to defend the region and the Intex Osaka venue on the island where the G20 leaders are to meet.
Police divers have trawled the moats of Osaka Castle, part of which is to remain closed during the summit.
Authorities have blocked roads and warned of delays of “large-scale and long duration” during the summit, urging locals to shelve vehicle use as much as possible to ease expected congestion.
Children rejoiced as about 700 schools were closed yesterday and today, while public transport is also curtailed, with lockers and bins sealed at train and subway stations as far away as Tokyo.
Authorities have banned any use of drones in the area and local courier services are already apologizing in advance for expected delayed deliveries.
“This will be the biggest summit that Japan has ever hosted,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told local officials and security staff assigned to guard the Intex Osaka conference center where the G20 leaders are to meet. “It is of paramount importance that we secure safety from both land and sea.”
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