Japan News 8/30

Another Sports Disappointment

Osaka lost in its bid to host the 2008 Olympics, but it managed to win the 2007 International Association of Athletics Federations meet, which took place August 25 to September 2 but suffered from lackluster ticket sales.

In the world of international track and field competitions, the IAAF meet is considered second only to the Olympics in importance.

However, ticket sales at the start of the meet were less than 50 percent.

Official figures are not available, but TV viewers couldn’t help but notice how empty the stands were for some events.

Seventy percent of the tickets for the opening ceremony and the men’s 100-meter dash had been sold as of August 23, but only 10 to 30 percent of tickets had been sold for many other events, despite a huge PR and advertising campaign that started half a year ago, according to the Japan Times.

IAAF President Lamine Diack reportedly delivered a letter to the mayor expressing his satisfaction with the efforts Osaka has made on behalf of the participants but also registering his concern over the poor ticket sales.

Osaka Mayor Junichi Seki told reporters it was difficult to boost attendance because many events lacked well-known Japanese or international athletes. Weather was another factor.

Since the beginning of August, Japan has been suffering an intense heat wave. The temperature at the end of the men’s marathon on August 25 was 33 degrees C (91 F), making it the hottest world championship marathon ever.


Yu Aku Dies

Yu Aku, one of the most important lyricists in the history of Japanese pop music, died in early August of urethral cancer at the age of 70.

Aku, whose real name was Hiroyuki Fukada, debuted as a songwriter in 1967, and went on to pen thousands of lyrics for songs that covered the entire spectrum of pop, from traditional "enka" ballads to bubblegum.

Some of his songs are so central to postwar Japanese culture that their titles have entered the language as phrases with a special meaning all their own.

Starting in the mid-1970s he appeared as a judge on a popular TV talent program that proved to be the springboard for some of the biggest pop acts of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, including Pink Lady and Momoe Yamaguchi, both of whom Aku eventually wrote songs for.

He also wrote a best-selling novel about a little league baseball team that was made into a popular feature film.

In his memoir, Aku said his greatest regret was that he never wrote a song for Hibari Misora, generally considered the greatest Japanese singer of the postwar era, who died in 1989 and was born the same year as Aku.