Tokyo/ Olympics 1964/ IV Nationalism as the Engine of the Tokyo Olympics Urban Scheme?

It is noted that the execution of Olympics Urban Scheme creates an array of undesirable conditions to livelihood and urbanscape of Tokyo, as discussed in previous narrative articles. How do the government gain support for such massive Olympics urban scheme?

Olympics is the gathering force, or in other words, the propaganda to unit and mobilize citizens. In order to persuade the public to support the Olympic bid, Tokyo Metropolitan Government uses the slogan “Olympic can make money.” They claimed that the Olympic Games is expected to invest 20 billion yen, and the revenue can reach 27 billion. The final actual situation is that half of the Olympic tourists are less than expected. Yet, recalling from the previous narrative that Tokyo’s vast Olympic expenditure only a tiny portion (less than three per cent) went to the construction of purely competition-related facilities; the majority was an investment to meet the city’s short-term and long-term development needs. Hence, it is acceptable that the entire Olympic economic account is obviously unable to make ends meet.

In fact, a strong sense of nationalism always persists in the Japanese. Although it is not a socialist system, the Japanese has the tradition of “concentrating power to do big things”. People think that they should dedication to the important affairs of the country and personal sacrifice. For the “national events”, the student movement, which was still very intense in the first half of 1964, automatically stopped before the Olympics began.

Student Movement of the 1960s

‘There was no need for the public to support the Olympics.’
– Official of Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1960s.

‘Japanese respondents described her social enthusiasm at the time: every resident committee had a meeting, and every school had to talk about it, specifically to talk about the significance of the Olympics; everyone with special skills To mobilize, every company must encourage employees to participate in the Olympic Games.’
–  former Beijing TV reporter Xu Chunxi visit to 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

‘’If it fails, not only will my family never turn over. And the hometown will be shamed for this… My life is very poor, but what about it, after all, one thing left for the future is mine.”
-Shingo Suzuki, a master of Japanese casting, 1964


Hence, it is not a false statement when Japanese media mentioned the advantages of Tokyo Olympics and summarized it as “the heartfelt demand of 7 million people (referring to the citizens of Tokyo)” and “the system of national unity’’ in 1960s.

Of course, the reality may not be that one-sided as it is subjected to the narratives of the government to present a better national image. As we can see from the positivity of the choice of words has overshadowed the negativities of all the undesirable conditions discussed before.

‘’The Japanese government mobilized more than 100,000 mountain farmers in the name of the country. Under the condition of low wages, they became the unsung heroes behind the Olympic construction ‘’

‘’Tokyo had an estimated 600,000 construction workers in 1964. Construction work attracted farmers and fisherman from around the country who would then send most of their pay home to their families.’’

For Tokyo Olympics 2020, similar strategy of using Olympics as gathering force or propanganda for urban scheme persists. Shortly after the successful bid for the Olympics, the media began to calculate the Olympic account, predicting the stock market trend, and guessing the results of “Abenomics”. Again, not only is Olympics promoted as economic boost to the city, but also as part of the bigger urban scheme for local interest.


“We Japanese people have not united for one thing for a long time… At this time, the whole nation needs one.’ – the official of the Olympic Committee’s media, Yosuke Fujiwara, 2013

“This will be a long-term plan for Tokyo, not for the simple concept of the Olympics itself, including further urbanization in Tokyo, aging of the citizens, industrial development, environmental impact. And other aspects of consideration’  – The Tokyo Olympics Committee , 2016


Rejection of 2016 Bid for Tokyo Olympics
Official account of the public’s celebration of winning the 2020 Bid for Tokyo Olympics

To conclude, there always exist an interlinking relationship between Tokyo Olympics and its urban development scheme. Yet, one does not lead to another.  One can hardly say that it is the nationalism for olympics that drive the related urban development or olympics solely as an event of the overall urban scheme which worth investing in, or both. Nevertheless, we can never deny that when the plan for Olympics and Urban Development coincide coherrently, they share mutual benefits


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