The 2020s: 11 Bold Predictions for Japan in the New Decade

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Looking back 10 years ago who would have said a reality TV host would become the leader of the free world, Shinzo Abe would return to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and Carlos Ghosn would be forced out of the country in disgrace (or a music crate). Who knows what the 2020s will bring, but it’s fun to guess.

Helper Robots Terrorize the Olympics

In an ever-increasingly desperate attempt to leave a legacy following the 2020 Summer Games, the Tokyo Olympic Committee injects the helper robots meant to retrieve errant discus throws with a healthy dose of AI juice. The little rascals run amuck after somebody forgot to email the password for opening the robots’ instruction manual, which had been sent in the previous email. Finnish gold medal favorite Bjornsven Dam Mardigan is knocked from competition when a rogue bot mistakes his foot for a discus.

Plastic-infused Squid

In 2021 a completely intact – but dead – giant squid washes ashore in Hokkaido. Two hundred kilograms of the plastic bags they use to package convenience store forks is found inside its stomach. The dashing young committee chair of the “Japan Economic Research Committee to Research Science and Economics” (they require that the title be written in quotations) announces that they will hold a press conference announcing the formation of a subcommittee to research the economic impact of scientific research. He is then perplexed why the foreign media isn’t impressed when he simultaneously announces the pregnancy of his TV-personality wife.

Mechagodzilla vs Logic and Reason

Inspired by the tragic events that transpired the previous two years, Toho Studios decides Mechagodzilla needs a 21st upgrade and in a 2022 release the studio injects the dormant mechanical lizard with gobs of AI juice, leading to a massive battle with a radioactively activated giant squid with the plasticity of Gumby. The destruction of Tokyo ensues, while the film also makes sly social commentary about the dangers of blindly trusting technology and government officials with intimidating scowls and elaborate Excel spreadsheets. Online trolls will bash the last and final Godzilla film – we’re serious this time – for making Mechagodzilla’s arms too short.

Square Watermelons Come Full Circle

In continued efforts to convince the world that Fukushima produce is indeed safe to eat, in 2023 horticulturalists produce triangle-shaped watermelons that enter the market at ¥20,000 a pop. That is until some asshole foreigner carves the thing to look like a nuclear reactor and the online-snark-o-meter has a meltdown. Not ones to give up on a good idea, scientists then invent the oval watermelon and successfully sell it for ¥30,000, creating massive queues down Ginza Avenue.

Update: Triangle watermelons already exist. The future is now.

Ghosn in 60 Seconds Part II

After realizing Lebanon’s national healthcare system is negligent at best, in 2024 Nissan’s former CEO and current winemaker Carlos Ghosn tries to sneak back into Japan – this time inside a tuba case – to treat his ulcerative colitis. However, the new AI robots running security at Osaka airport mistake his Lebanese passport for that of a Nepalese housemaid and he gets sent to perform manual labor in a Moto-Azabu townhome. Ghosn escapes Japan authorities again in a cello case. The rest of the world doesn’t care.

But He Promised the Moon

In the year 2025 a Japanese billionaire and his blushing bride become the first couple to tie the knot in space after Elon Musk finally launches SpaceX. Things go awry when the blitzed groom decides it’s a fantastic idea to mix Champagne with strawberry daquiris and the inside of the space capsule becomes a putrid petri dish filled with pink amoeba-like vomit floating about and sticking to the bridesmaids’ hair. Then they all stop by the International Space Station for meatball subs and everybody finally swallows their anti-gravity chill pills.

Caught in a Tacky Web

When wolf spiders hatch from their eggs, the harried mama wolf spider carries all the tiny baby wolf spiders on her back. If you happen to see a mama wolf spider in your driveway and try to kick it, what seems like a hundred itty bitty baby wolf spiders scatter across the pavement creating a crippling case of arachnophobia. In 2026 AKB48 officially calls it quits in a dramatic sendoff at New National Stadium (proving it’s not a white elephant despite what the ungrateful Western media claims). However, all the younger members and spin-off groups spread across the country like baby wolf spiders, growing their infectious web bigger and stronger than ever before.

Japan Goes to Pot

Since nobody is still buying Fukushima produce, in 2027 the Japanese government finally caves to the demands of foreigners’ angry blog posts and makes medical marijuana legal. Fukushima rice paddies are drained and mary jane takes root. However, the bud is only legal for those over the age of 70. The funny cigarettes are also only available to be smoked on Fridays between 5 and 7pm, on Saturdays between 10am and 6pm and on Sundays between 9am and 3:30pm (and national holidays). Prescriptions require hankos from two doctors and facial recognition IDs must be scanned (after first being faxed at least 48 hours in advance) at dispensaries located in goddamn Saitama.

Abe Rejuvenation 3.0

With the dramatic decrease in its elderly voting base, the LDP loses the Diet majority in 2028 for the first time in two decades. In a stunning turn of events the Democratic Liberal Party of Japan elects the country’s first female prime minister. Opposition swiftly finds that she handed out fans to sweating attendees at her hanami party, and the new prime minister is removed from office for improper gifts. With the LDP firmly back in control, Shinzo Abe is dethawed from his carbonite chamber, jacked up with AI juice, and returned to power.

Up in Smoke

In 2029 PR reps across Japan are forced to admit the country only has three seasons after the annual temperature refuses to drop below 28 degrees Celsius. The third season is the period between October and November when the leaves turn brown and crinkle up like Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The highly flammable forests are one big haze of smoke as the blazing sun turns the crisp edges of leaves to embers (it’s breathtaking!), giving a new meaning to Mount Fuji’s suicide forest.

Off the Rails

Tracks are completed and the Hokkaido Shinkansen finally reaches a renovated Sapporo Station just in time for the 2030 Winter Olympics, for which they import snow they scraped off the few remaining polar ice caps. However, the need for the shinkansen has become completely moot with the recent invention of the world’s first dual-role, flying and submersible vehicle, which a precocious copywriter dubs the Dragonfly™.

Feature image by voyata / Shutterstock.com

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