There is an odd infatuation among Japan’s ruling elite with fantasy characters: last June, BOJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who is running the greatest monetary experiment in history, essentially compared himself to Peter Pan in a formal speech at the BOJ-IMES conference, saying no matter what, one has to believe one can fly just like Peter Pan:
The issues I have raised so far are all complex, and there are no quick, definitive solutions for them. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that, at this one-and-a-half day conference, we will address the issues we currently face and find our way forward through lively discussions. I trust that many of you are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, in which it says, “the moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” Yes, what we need is a positive attitude and conviction. Indeed, each time central banks have been confronted with a wide range of problems, they have overcome the problems by conceiving new solutions.
Overnight, Japan’s other distinguished ruler, premier Shinzo Abe did it again, when he took time away from his busy schedule of instructing the BOJ to monetize any ETF it can find, while buying now more than a third of all Japanese government bonds, and appeared in a brief but showstopping gig at the Olympics closing ceremony as the Nintendo game character Super Mario, in what AP said “offered a tantalizing glimpse at Tokyo’s plans for the 2020 games.”
The organizers for the Tokyo Olympics crammed the works into a brief two-minute film montage before Abe’s appearance: athletes participating in more than a dozen sports, as iconic Japanese images like Tokyo Tower, cherry blossoms, a bullet train, Tokyo Bay Bridge and the famous “scramble” intersection in Shibuya whiz by. Anime and video game characters including Pac Man and Hello Kitty were featured, along with the blue Doraemon cat, who pulls from his pocket of magic gadgets a green warp pipe to whisk Abe, transformed briefly into Super Mario, from his limousine in Tokyo straight to Rio.
Abe emerges atop the “pipe” in a big red Super Mario cap and costume, holding a glowing red ball kicked to him by famed manga soccer star Captain Tsubasa.
How did Japan’s prime minister become an Italian character with a fetish for eating magic mushrooms? The Tokyo 2020 organizers said in a statement that the Super Mario idea came up during a brainstorming session.
Staff at Nintendo would say only that the government asked to borrow the character for the show. At least on Twitter, Abe pretty much upstaged other highlights of the Olympics finale. Alternatively, perhaps Abe was merely giving Kuroda a hint to be more like his ECB peer, Super Mario Draghi, best known for his unprecedented ability to soak up debt securities over the past two years.
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