042 Reply from JAGDA Request letter to JAGDA

After I sent a document titled “Opinion and request regarding JAGDA document” to the JAGDA office on September 30, 2016, I received a response from JAGDA on November 9, 40 days after the submission of my document.

The reply was a litany of fallacious arguments, completely off the mark. Today, I was compelled to once again submit a request.

I am recording the document I submitted to JAGDA in full, hereunder.

[Request letter to JAGDA]

Messrs. Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc.


The document “Regarding the 1st design competition for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games emblems” was not approved by the general assembly; in fact, it is “a document for which all members of the board and the steering committee have agreed to sign their names”, which does not make it an official “JAGDA Overview Statement”.

By releasing this document under the name of Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA)—and considering the fact that the subject of the sentences in the document is “JAGDA”—it is my understanding that the document has to be sanctioned by the general assembly, an indispensable procedure.

Though the document was not a general assembly approved document, in reality, all pages of the document is narrated throughout from the subjective point of view of “JAGDA”. The document proudly announces and claims it is a “JAGDA Overview”.

Furthermore, the said unofficial document which has yet to be approved by JAGDA members remains on view on the JAGDA official website, entitled “JAGDA’s overview regarding the 1st design competition for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games emblems”. This document, which cannot be considered a JAGDA overview, which is a fake document, a lie, is published for all to see on its website.


The pseudo document has no right, per se, to be released to the public in the first place. I strongly request that it be removed from the JAGDA official website today, immediately.

If JAGDA chooses not to take down this document, allowing this blatant lie to remain sitting in the public domain—it will be enough to paint the picture of JAGDA as a shameless organization that tells brazen lies, an organization lacking in common sense and known for its socially inconsiderate behavior.

If JAGDA wishes to continue to keep the current document on its website, it should rewrite its sentences, replacing the places where it says “JAGDA” with “JAGDA board members and steering committee members”; at the same time, JAGDA must make specific note of which board member and steering committee member have actually given their consent to the document by listing their names, thereby properly attributing responsibility to where it belongs. Any document that comes with no signature attribution is not worthy of our trust. So it is safe to say that this is not a document that we should trust.

The title given in the website and the explanation that follows are all falsehoods—nothing but a compilation of lies. It needs to be rewritten to reflect the true facts.

I hereby present my request anew and await your swift response.

Keiko Hirano
November 17, 2016


This is the request letter in whole that I submitted to JAGDA today.

There was a letter that came with the reply from JAGDA that I received on November 9. The letter read: “The question posed by Ms. Hirano was a matter related to the proceedings of the minutes, thus we are addressing this matter separately”. However, the opinion I submitted was a formal objection against the lies, the fraudulency, the factitious document itself. It is not some mild comment regarding “the proceedings of the minutes”. The scope of my questions goes far beyond that..

Furthermore, in the letter, I found the words: “This is an official response made as the director of the JAGDA Office, not a personal response from Nobumitsu Oseko”, stating the obvious which was utterly unnecessary. There is no need to pen the words “This is an official response” as if there is any room for wavering from the fact that this is indeed a formal correspondence. We are dealing with a matter that influences the whole society; we are discussing an issue in which a number of JAGDA members were involved, which created a major social problem, which became the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo controversy.

I have no inclination to keep the ongoing correspondence under wraps. So I am disclosing all the information. By making the information available to all, and by allowing not only JAGDA members to review the information, but allowing third parties to access such information, and allowing the objective scrutiny from society, hopefully, this action will lend to a self-cleansing process for JAGDA. I believe it is the way to restore JAGDA as a sound organization.

I am recording the response received by JAGDA in whole, hereunder.

[Response from JAGDA] (*JAGDA’s response noted in blue)

(Hirano) Opinion letter (1)
In relation to the “overview”, the internal JAGDA email dated August 12 states that the document has yet to be approved by the General Assembly; yet the JAGDA website, dated July 28, still claims “JAGDA overview ….unveiled”. No change has been made as to the status of this said overview. If approval has not been met, and JAGDA admits that the document does not serve as the official overview of the organization, the wording on the website should be corrected at once.

(JAGDA) Response
“In regards to the overview document, the draft was compiled by the president and vice presidents, the three high ranking officials, which was then approved through a hand-around among board members and steering committee members, before it was finally unveiled. Therefore it stands as the organization’s “Official Overview”.

(Hirano) Opinion letter (1)
Whether the “overview” has been elevated to the status of the organization’s overview, or remains a mere report made by the members of the board and the steering committee, the correct status must be defined, as it affects how people present their opinions. As a premise for soliciting opinions JAGDA must immediately make clear where the “overview” stands in a clear unified manner, and make the announcement within and without the organization.

(JAGDA) Response
As stated before, the overview is not a “mere report” but the “organization’s overview”.

(Hirano) Opinion letter (2)
Unless JAGDA can come up with a unified stance, as long as the standing of the document remains murky, JAGDA should not disclose the so-called “overview” outside the organization as a public statement. This must stop immediately.

(JAGDA) Response
We do not believe our “stance” is murky.

(Hirano) Opinion letter (3)
Regarding the opinions submitted by JAGDA members: how will they be put to use? Unless this point is made clear, people will feel uncomfortable presenting their opinions. Is JAGDA simply going through the motions, seeking opinions for reference purpose only? Then there is no need to set a submission deadline. If JAGDA needs a deadline for feedback, does that mean the opinions will be compiled, put together and released in one form or another? When soliciting views from other people the purpose and the use of the collected material must be made clear. It is simply a matter of courtesy. If there is a lack of decency, how can we believe the organization really wants to hear our views? The vague-sounding “sharing” doesn’t do the trick. It doesn’t tell us what is going to happen. It doesn’t reveal anything.

(JAGDA) Response
As is stated at the end of the JAGDA document, regarding this issue, JAGDA is resolved to commit more time and continue to study and digest the facts from a historical viewpoint. The individual opinions collected from all members will and should be put to use with this view in mind. The word “sharing” means the incorporation (of such voices).

(Hirano) Opinion letter (4)
JAGDA tried to present the document as a matter for approval at the General Assembly, knowing that it could not be part of the agenda, a matter for approval by the General Assembly. What gave rise to this situation? The cause must investigated.

(JAGDA) Response
It was only the night, two days before the general assembly, when it was finally confirmed that approval from board and steering committee members had been obtained regarding the draft of the JAGDA document. In fact, we were not even planning to present the document as an item for approval at the general assembly. However, considering the gravity of the issue, a last minute decision was made to present the “Organization’s Overview” as part of the business report for fiscal 2015.
Initially, we had requested that the following words be inserted when releasing the overview statement: “It is now time for JAGDA’s business report for the previous year. We are going to ask you to take a look at the contents which is there in the agenda that was handed out. In lieu of going over the report together, we would like to take this time to reveal our overview statement regarding the Olympic logo issue. The board and the steering committee have given the nod to this document”. The introduction, due to a procedural slip-up on the part of the JAGDA office, was left out, and were not related to the members present at the assembly.

(Hirano) Opinion letter (4)
In fact, was JAGDA intending to ignore all processes and railroad the document through to approval? If that was the case, whose planned it? Or was it a simple slip-up that led to a pseudo approval? Considering how JAGDA used the incongruous words, “Unless the document is approved today, JAGDA won’t be able to exist as a legitimate organization starting tomorrow”―totally unreal―to put a stop the Q & A session and force the audience to give their approval, it is difficult to believe that this was a simple slip-up. There is a definite feeling that it was intended. An investigation is called for. Somebody needs to be held accountable.

(JAGADA) Response
In the first place, there was never any Q&A session being planned beforehand regarding the JAGDA document. So there was concern that if the impromptu Q&A session regarding the matter dragged on any further, we would not be able to resolve important matters that were listed in the agenda—including last year’s business report, and such. The director of the JAGDA office commenting that, “unless the document is approved today, JAGDA won’t be able to exist as a legitimate organization starting tomorrow” has nothing to do with the JAGDA document. But rather, the comment was made in relation to the important agenda items.

(Hirano) Opinion letter (5)
The method used to lead and maneuver the General Assembly in the wrong direction was extremely rude not only towards the person who posed a question―and had the Q & A session cut short, but towards all JAGDA members who were present at the General Assembly that day. An apology is in order. JAGDA members are all entitled to the right to ask questions and take part in discussions at the General Assembly. Their rights were taken away at this assembly. Accountability regarding the rights of JAGDA members should be made clear.

(JAGDA) Response
As given above, comments that suggest there was any intention to “lead and maneuver the General Assembly in the wrong direction”, or that “the Q&A session was cut short in a totally unrealistic manner”, or “existing rights (of the JAGDA members) … were taken away” do not reflect the actual facts. It is obvious that such criticism is way off the mark.

November 9, 2016


This was the JAGDA response in whole.

In the letter, the JAGDA office director noted that: “As to our response regarding questions received and issues raised concerning the overview document regarding the logo issue, the steering committee and the board met the other day and spent much time discussing the matter. But we have not reached a collective decision yet. We have decided to ask for some more time for consideration”. I learned that the JAGDA vice president, Mr. Kenya Hara, the major player who concocted the said document, was absent from the board meeting that was held on October 31. I heard this from a member who attended the board meeting.

On October 26, at the steering committee meeting that was held that day, a committee member proposed that “maybe we should aim at holding an open discussion forum, such as a symposium, open to all members”. It was a constructive opinion. But Mr. Hara was instrumental in opposing the very idea. Ultimately, the open forum notion remained undecided and the agenda was carried over to the board meeting. This, I heard from a member who attended the steering committee meeting. In this way, Mr. Hara managed to carry over the open forum agenda to the board meeting; and yet, he was absent from the board meeting. This was another incident, in addition to the attempt to railroad JAGDA members to vote at the general assembly that took place in June 25. How are we JAGDA members supposed to take this, those of us who submitted our opinions and are left waiting for JAGDA to respond? The vice president who is at the crux of the issue is skipping the JAGDA board meeting.

If the Japan Graphic Designers Association truly wishes to come up with an overview that sums up the Olympic Games logo controversy, it is my belief that it will need JAGDA members with good common sense and knowledgeable persons from outside the association who are all equipped with aspiration, the spirit to serve and a strong resolution. They must come together as a group to compile an official document, making sure it follows due process every step along the way. Then the document would not be a mere “overview”―an irresponsible approach put in place to pose as an objective third-person viewpoint―but would serve as a first-person account, a record of true facts; it would become an analysis of what really went wrong, a probe to get to the bottom of the problem. Unless the group is ready to follow through, equipped with an eye for self-reflection, as a way to ensure we won’t be seeing a similar problem arise in the future―I don’t think there is any point in compiling such a document.

It is regretful that few persons who were directly involved in the Olympic logo controversy are willing to speak up. It is even worse when some continue to spew lies. Considering the current situation, I think it is highly improbable that we will see a successful hearing investigation take place. But I still want to believe that there are some people out there, among the judges, the guest artists, and entrants of the competition, who are willing to cooperate.

If a member of the Japan Graphic Designers Association who was embroiled in the Olympic logo controversy cannot allow himself to look back on the facts with an eye for self-examination, there is no way that the artist can live up to and face his responsibilities as a specialist for today, nor in the future.

So let us return to the JAGDA document entitled “Regarding the 1st design competition for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games emblems”. It is a document that (allegedly) all board members and all steering committee members agreed to sign and affix their names. To give our approval to this document and treat it as the official JAGDA overview means that we are accepting the injustices that were carried out by the graphic designers and art directors who belong to JAGDA and those who took part in the controversy regarding the Olympic emblems. By giving our approval, it makes all JAGDA members complicit in the dishonest act. It turns all JAGDA members into corrupt accomplices.

Are we going to tolerate this audacious behavior, this total defiance flaunted by the very persons who were at the center of the Olympic Games logo controversy, or not? Are we going to allow these people go on to “sum up the Olympic Games logo controversy”? Do we really want to acquiesce and accept an overview document which was penned by the culprits who were at the center of the controversy?

As designers, from here on, do we want to lead our professional lives with a clear conscience, every day filled with a fresh promise? Or do we want to spend the rest of our lives bitten by remorse, fighting a sinking feeling of guilt? The choice is ours to make. We can deliberately choose either course.

Keiko Hirano

[Note: Revisions were made to the original post; in the 6th paragraph from the end, with two additional paragraphs added on, and reposted on November 22]

Keiko Hirano
November 22, 2016

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.

Personal note:
I contributed an op-ed piece to the November issue of the “Kenchiku Journal” magazine (on sale November 1). The special feature of the issue is “Ridiculing the Olympic Games”.