029 Every piece of information that I garnered as a judge on the selection committee

On February 2, 2016 I received news that the Belgian designer Olivier Debie dropped his law suit against the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Mr. Debie had been pursuing his case to stop the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games from using the former logo, which was ultimately withdrawn.

Upon hearing the report I made the decision to record all the facts that I had not been able to disclose before, in this chapter. These facts are crucial pieces of information. I must begin by stating my reasons for not having done so up until now. During the press conference that was held on September 1, 2015, regarding the withdrawal of the former Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo design, Mr. Toshiro Muto, Chief Executive Officer of the Tokyo Organizing Committee said: “Regarding whether or not (the design) resembles that of the logo of Theatre de Liege (…) in relation to the legalities of the law suit, we have been advised by our lawyer who is actually involved in the legal proceedings, that we should refrain from offering various comments before the actual arguments take place at trial (Reprinted from the <bunbuntokuhoh> website)”. Taking note of Mr. Muto’s comments, at the time, I decided that I should not reveal my information considering how it could affect the trial. But following the Theatre de Liege, now we have heard that Mr. Debie, too, dropped his law suit. I am well aware that my information may be long overdue—but I would still like to give a full account, using these pages.

The information that I am recording hereunder came to me from Mr. Takuma Takasaki, who was the creative director of the Organizing Committee. It is a reproduction of the whole document that was brought to my office on July 8th, 2015 by Mr. Takasaki for the second meeting in which he requested my acceptance of the proposed revision of the original design. The document is actually a detailed record of the revision process, listing the when and whom, and the number of revisions, along with a time line. At the meeting with Mr. Takasaki, I listened to him go over the details based on the documents. But as I felt the very principle at the basis was flawed, nothing could change my decision. Just like the first meeting, I refused to accept the revised plan. Thus we ended the second session, once again failing to reach any agreement. Ever since I took on the role as judge on the selection committee I was feeling a growing suspicion and distrust against the organizing committee. Thus I did not return the documents but kept them for safekeeping.

[Reprinted from documents regarding the revision process of the former Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo design] (Format as shown in original)

Judging session
IOC Branding Meeting 
Results of judging session given strong approval
Re No.42: Resemblance between Olympics and Paralympics too strong. Not feasible
Re No.9: Tough choice considering worldwide marketing purposes

Summary check for domestic trademark registration 

Report to Mr. Murofushi and Ms. Narita regarding winning design plans
Received strong approval

Meeting with President Mori and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Muto and other organizing committee officials for endorsement
Winning design plan is wonderful
Trademark registration should be cleared by revising this draft plan
Make sure to reveal plans for both Olympics and Paralympics simultaneously, along with a message
Share results regarding domestic trademark registration 
Signing of transfer of rights contracts (for top three winners)
Share opinions regarding global trademark registration
Received input from IPC side regarding fear of imbalance in design
Interim report to President Mori and CEO Muto
Revision process begins
Initial revision draft completed
Shared opinion from Legal
Second revision draft completed
Shared opinion from Legal (seek common ground)
Meeting with Legal

Third revision draft completed
IOC shares comments
Necessity of story behind design noted
Strategy Meeting (Organizing Committee) 
Forth revision draft completed
Fifth revision draft completed
Sixth revision draft completed
Presentation for President Mori and CEO Muto
(No decision reached)
Eighth revision draft completed
Ninth revision draft completed
Production of visuals
Presentation for President Mori and CEO Muto
Legal Meeting
IOC Legal Meeting

Regarding the Olympic emblem selection that is now under way, I assume a similar process like the one that took place for the former logo design, is ongoing regarding the four designs that were selected as final candidates. No facts were revealed about the revision process itself. In the past press conferences, we only heard a broad description; that there had been two revisions undertaken. According to these records it is unclear as to who actually judged these revision plans. There are multiple blanks left where the name of the official who supposedly confirmed the revisions should be. It is a document that leaves more questions than answers.

Based on the contents of this record, let me once again reflect upon a piece of evidence that has become widely known: the revisions were carried out without informing the seven judges on the selection committee, except for Mr. Takasaki. At this point, it becomes quite difficult to accept things at face value. Regarding Mr. Kazumasa Nagai, it is difficult to believe that he was merely a fellow judge on the selection committee, on par with other judges with the exception of Mr. Takasaki. As a basis for my conviction I can point to numerous established facts: he was present at promotional events and press releases in the capacity of the representative of the judging panel, he attended the three-party meeting that decided on the withdrawal of the Olympic logo. He alone was constantly present at these crucial moments, events and situations that none of the other judges were requested to take part in. When it came to drawing up the guidelines for the competition, he was the man who established the rules for submission and the selection of guest artists. Furthermore, right after the initial winning design was retracted and a new selection committee was quickly established, Mr. Nagai was able to recommend and actually send in multiple judges to sit on the newly established emblem committee. This is what I heard from Mr. Nagai directly. Thus his deep involvement in both the old and new competition is apparent. We have become aware of the special relationship upheld between Mr. Nagai and the Organizing Committee. Therefore it is difficult to simply take the words—that Mr. Nagai was unaware of the revision process—at face value. Especially, when taking into consideration the current situation where everyone involved keeps on making false statements, where we are stuck in deep layers of falsehood, I cannot believe in Mr. Nagai who constantly stood by with the Organizing Committee. His words and statements just don’t ring true to me.

Let us look at this from a different angle. I watched the footage of two press releases which were held on August 5 and August 28, 2015 and listened to the back story explaining the formative basis of the revision plan: That the designer Kenjiro Sano, single-handedly came up with the concept of bringing together the design policies of two Olympics, past and present, by offering a homage to the 1964 Olympics emblem designed by Yusaku Kamekura, by incorporating the shape of the circle from the 1964 Olympics logo. Considering Mr. Sano’s past work, his track record and his creative style, I see no consistency with this story. It just doesn’t seem to fly.  Mr. Takasaki, who was the creative director of the Organizing Committee and was responsible for the creative side; Mr. Nagai, who was the representative of the judges of the selection committee; and even Mr. Sano, who was the person responsible and the one person who should be in the know about what he had done; none of them are speaking up. They are committed to not explaining anything. With no true facts being revealed, the curtain is about to close leaving us with numerous questions.

“Even Mr. Nagai said that ‘Specialists like us can understand (this was not a copy) but the question is whether ordinary people can understand and accept it”. That is the crux of the matter”. Here is a statement that was made on September 1, 2015 at the press conference revealing the scrapping of the Olympic logo, during Q&A. It was a response made by Mr. Muto, the chief executive of Tokyo 2020. The statement was quoted as the explanation, the reason given for scrapping the logo. The most quoted portions were, “in the world of design we can understand” and “while specialists like us can fully understand, that is beyond the comprehension of ordinary people”. These delusional statements, an abusive torrent of words spilled and spread, creating a “grave misconception towards design”. The Organizing Committee was the author of creating the myth that “the design industry lacks common sense”. The myth was created in a public statement that went on record. It was thus impressed upon the general public that “the lack of common sense” was in fact “the norm” in the world of design. This bureaucratic idea and train of thought, the utter lack of appreciation towards art and aesthetics disgraced the truth that upholds design. September 1 should be remembered as “the day when design was killed off”. 

In the six months that began with the surfacing of the Olympic logo issue, the truth behind design, justice and trust were all destroyed, one and all. Not only those who were directly involved in the issue, but organizations related to design and politicians remain silent. It seems as if they are all looking away from this problem that took place in reality. That in itself means that Japan’s graphic design industry—if we are to say that such an industry actually exists—the Japanese graphic design industry has closed the doors to the future with its own hands, of its own will. That is what I think. However, I also sense a ray of light, however faint. A handful of people, putting their pride as designers at stake, are bravely speaking up and commenting on the emblem issue. Design journalists have published books directly addressing the emblem issue. There are voices coming from the realm of knowledge and intelligence. I received a signed letter from a young advertising creator who happens to be a reader of this blog. The letter was a wild shout-out filled with conflicted feelings and deep thoughts related to the emblem issue. I believe that if we all take this opportunity to think on our own, and each take action, choosing our individual method—that is the way to seek rebirth. I can sense germination happening, I see the buds and hear the sounds of hope breaking ground towards a new world. 

I will continue with my meditations through this blog. As for the information that I garnered through my role as judge on the selection committee, which I have been recording here as way to take responsibility as a judge, I can safely say that I have now disclosed in full. My initial approach, which was to provide information, now comes to a close.
Respectfully submitted

Keiko Hirano

Keiko Hirano:
Designer/Visioner, Executive Director of Communication Design Laboratory
Hirano served on the panel that chose the official emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was ultimately withdrawn.