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For Tokyo, Olympic success in ’64 and hurdles to 2020

Sept. 30, 2014

In 2020, Tokyo will become the first Asian city to host the summer Olympics twice.

The 1964 summer Olympics in Tokyo were the first to be held in Asia, and marked a major turning point for Japan, a return to the international stage for a country still recovering from its World War II firebombing and lingering global resentments.

The 1964 Olympics were a huge success for Japan, and not only in terms of international symbolism or gold medals.

The buildup to ’64 saw the transformation of Tokyo into a sleek, modern and thriving megalopolis, complete with high-speed bullet trains symbolizing Japan’s economic emergence. Highways, expressways, and subway lines were built, and Haneda Airport was modernized. Beautifying the city and keeping its streets clean became a focus for Tokyo that still remains. Continue reading