Facing Olympic hotel shortage, Tokyo looks offshore

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This picture taken on July 16, 2019 shows Sun Princess cruise ship, docked in the port of Yokohama. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
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This picture taken on July 16, 2019 shows Sun Princess cruise ship, docked in the port of Yokohama. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
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This picture taken on July 16, 2019 shows Sun Princess cruise ship, docked in the port of Yokohama. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
Updated 18 July 2019

Facing Olympic hotel shortage, Tokyo looks offshore

  • Tokyo could be short as many as 14,000 rooms given an expected surge of Olympics-related tourism
  • Japan’s largest travel agency JTB has chartered the 1,011-cabin Sun Princess for the Olympic period

YOKOHAMA, Japan: Tokyo is facing a shortage of accommodation when Olympic fans pour into the Japanese capital for next year’s Games so officials are looking offshore — to moored cruise ships operating as floating hotels.
Despite a construction boom, Tokyo could be short as many as 14,000 rooms given an expected surge of Olympics-related tourism, according to researchers.
Local officials think one solution could be to put people up in giant ships temporarily docked off Tokyo and nearby Yokohama during the Games.
Among those on board with the idea is Japan’s largest travel agency JTB, which has chartered the 1,011-cabin Sun Princess for the Olympic period, complete with everything from jacuzzis to a theater.
The agency is offering packages that combine rooms with Olympic event tickets, but they don’t come cheap.
Two nights in a room with a balcony combined with tickets to an Olympic football match will run 200,000 yen ($1,850), while two nights in a 50-square-meter suite combined with baseball tickets will go for 724,000 yen ($6,700).
The agency said it was confident about demand, partly because “we will have a shortage of hotels of a certain standard,” said Minoru Kuge, head of JTB’s Tokyo2020 Project Office.
“Although we can’t disclose the actual numbers, we have received an excellent reaction from our customers,” he told AFP on a tour of the luxury ship.
And Kuge said he expected the package to have a special draw — “a sense of unity” among customers who will all be cheering on Olympic athletes.
Elsewhere, plans have been negotiated for the 928-cabin Explorer Dream ship to dock in Kawasaki, in western Tokyo bay.
And both Tokyo’s local government and officials in Chiba prefecture, east of the capital, are looking into additional cruise ship possibilities.
Japan’s hotel business law bans rooms without a window, but the health ministry last year issued an ordinance that allows ships with windowless cabins to be used as hotels during major events.
But experts warn that a few cruise ships may not be enough.
“It is unclear if hotels ships in the Tokyo Bay will be able to cover hotel rooms shortage,” warned a report on the issue published in October by Mizuho Research Institute.
Even the number of tourists the capital can expect remains unclear because the increase in Olympic visitors may be balanced out by other tourists opting to stay away until the Games are done.
Regardless, Tokyo officials see the ships as a novel accommodation solution, and are also planning to open a new cruise ship terminal days before the Games began.
Officials and industry experts hope using docked ships for extra hotel space will become common in the country, as a way to cater to visitors during special events, or even help people displaced during disasters.
“If a provincial city wants to host an international convention or other big events but doesn’t have enough accommodation, hotel ships can be a solution,” said Yoshimi Tajima, JTB’s senior official at the corporate business department.


Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

Updated 24 February 2020

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury
  • He was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013

NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a cascade of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a measure of vindication for the dozens of women who came out against the one-time all-powerful filmmaker.
However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner who produced films including "Shakespeare In Love" was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have seen him jailed for life.
The Time's Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, hailed the verdict as marking "a new era of justice."
"Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back," it said in a statement.
The limited win for #MeToo presents the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The decision was announced in a packed New York courtroom where some 100 people had gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, was shielded from view by police officers.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.
But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to prosecute.
One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
Six women took the stand from the opening of testimony on January 22, to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein's team subjected the women to ferocious cross-examination, as they argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.
The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he was king, but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.
The state's case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.
Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.
He was also charged with forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.
Mann and Young both testified that Weinstein's genitals appeared deformed, during graphic and at times uncomfortable testimony, as the prosecution showed jurors nude photos of Weinstein to corroborate their accounts.
The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a sentence of life in prison.
For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.
Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.
Ex-model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.
Judge Burke dismissed the jury just after noon Monday, thanking them for their "care" and "attention."
Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young's allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.
Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.