009 Strictly “public” work

In this segment, I will touch on an important matter that could not be contained in the previous postings 007 and 008.

The reason why I chose the blog format, a visual space on the internet, as a place to conduct my musings and note my observations is because, I believe in the concept of “public”—I have unwavering faith in the notion and it serves as the bedrock of my own code of conduct.  In my mind, when I visualize the ideal concept of “public” I see great strength and transparency that can stand up to scrutiny from all directions, crystal clear, from all 360 degrees. I sought a way to continue with my observations, without causing any conflict with this ideal image—and from design’s viewpoint—I decided the internet was the most appropriate space for the purpose.

I hardly need to reiterate that the Olympic Games is a major global event carried out on a national scale. The people who manage and support the great event are public figures who are tasked with “public” duties and responsibilities. Some serve in the capacity of “quasi-civil servants.” The selection of the official Olympic Game emblems is also one such “public” work. Though the members of the selection panel are not public figures per se, but by offering their expertise as specialists chosen for the task, I believe we come to share in the “public” responsibility, at least in part. Therefore, if and when a problem occurred in relation to the “public” work we took part in as judges on the panel, the members assume the obligation to disclose all facts to the best of their knowledge. That is my understanding, and that is what I am consciously aware of.

Logically speaking—let me say, in an ideal world—instead of personally disclosing what I heard and learned about this issue, in a space that I personally manage and control, I could have handed over all facts and information that came to my knowledge to the Organization Committee; leave it to the hands of appropriate learned people to sift through the multi-faceted facts and phenomenon and bring some cohesion to it all; they would scrutinize the evidence, organize the facts and report the results to the awaiting public. That was another way to go. And that would have made better sense. However, I was there for the judging process. And after watching the five press conferences held on August 5, August 28, September 1, September 18 and September 28, 2015 by the Organization Committee, I came to see the huge differences between what I believe are the major points and arguments that should be made public, and what the Organization Committee was ready to disclose. The huge differences in perceptions and values were overwhelming—a gap that could not be bridged. I gave up on the idealistic notion of asking the Organization Committee to go public with the facts. Thus I decided to start a personal blog for my observations and record keeping.

I would like to make one thing absolutely clear: had I not believed that as a member of the panel of judges I shared certain “public” responsibilities and obligations, I would not have taken this course of action. 

Even the phrase “official view” has the shadings of “public”—and in fact the Japanese phrase uses the kanji character that means “public”. I scanned the records of the press conferences, while being painfully conscious of the significance of the word “public”. As I wrote in the previous segments, 007 and 008, at the press conference, words that were concocted by the Organization Committee were made public. They were attributed to me, as if they were my own statement; a news reporter—a job that holds social credibility—went ahead and wrote an article based on the disclosed contents; the article was distributed and diffused across the world. I could not do anything to stop the phenomena from happening—leaving me powerless, hopeless and desperate. I spent days in deep humiliation, during which time, once again, I had to confront the major thesis, what is the cause that should be embraced in the notion “public”? It was a difficult time filled with despair and humiliation—but the struggle turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I came out stronger, brave enough to take action.

I believed that if there was a great cause that was good enough for me to sacrifice part of the “self” and the “individual”. But that was before. Having experienced this issue, after my exchanges with the Organization Committee, I have undergone a change. I believe the dignity of “self” and the “individual” must be protected whatever the cause.

To see the philosophies and truths—words—that an individual has painstakingly created throughout his or her life be thrust aside, handled so carelessly and belittled in a “public” forum, is regrettable to say the least. This deep sadness will inspire me to meditate further for a deeper understanding of the notion “public”.

As for the members of the Organization Committee and officials involved in the Olympic Games, as public figures I hope you will take pride in and commit yourselves to and fulfill responsibilities in your “public” work, and that my blogging activity will serve and assist you in some way. Hopefully, someday, my words will make perfect sense and my intentions will be understood. That will be a good day (for me, as well). 

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.