Osaka rolls out red carpet for G20

OSAKA, Japan (AFP) – Special quick-flushing toilets and granny rap: Japan’s Osaka is determined to paint itself in the best possible light for the G20 leaders summit starting today.

With a meaty agenda including global trade and geopolitical hotspots like Iran and North Korea, the hosts are keen that world leaders are not caught short in the world-famous Japanese toilets.

They are showcasing the latest in toilet technology and have shaved down the time to refill the cistern from one minute to 20 seconds for the busy world leaders – also reducing the water usage with the environment part of the G20 agenda.

Residents of Japan’s second city are proud of their reputation for being straight-talking and having a wicked sense of humour, in contrast to the rest of the country often seen as shy, overly polite and cautious.

And to welcome the leaders, a local “idol” group of singers known as Obachaaan – whose members are women mostly in their 70s – released a rap video to showcase local attractions, delicacies and culture.

Police officers block an entrance gate of the Hanshin Expressway due to the upcoming G20 leaders meeting in Osaka. – AFP

Restaurants in the area are offering G20-themed dishes, like takoyaki, a delicacy unique to Osaka that features fried pieces of chopped octopus in batter.

To appeal to some of the estimated 30,000 officials and journalists from around the world, certain restaurants are sprinkling these octopus balls with garnishes from G20 nations – caviar for Russia and BBQ sauce for the United States (US) for example.

As for the government, it is not leaving anything to chance even with Japan virtually free of violent crime and mercifully spared some of the terrorist atrocities that have struck many nations in recent years.

Some 32,000 police officers along with 60 coastguard ships with more than 1,000 officers have been deployed to defend the region and the Intex Osaka venue on the island where G20 leaders will meet.

Police frogmen have trawled the moats of Osaka Castle, part of which will remain closed during the summit.

Authorities have blocked roads and warned of delays of “large-scale and long duration” during the summit, urging locals to shelve car use as much as possible to ease expected congestion.

Authorities have banned any use of drones in the area and local courier services are already apologising in advance for expected delayed deliveries.

“This will be the biggest summit that Japan has ever hosted,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told local officials and security staff assigned to guard the Intex Osaka conference centre where G20 leaders will meet.

“It is of paramount importance that we secure safety from both land and sea.”