A history of Japan in two Olympic Games
TOKYO – The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games is due to take place on July 23, the second time the capital has hosted the world’s largest sporting event after its first in 1964. Between then and today, Japan has radically changed.
In 1964 the Beatles released “A Hard Day’s Night” and Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) was crowned heavyweight champion of the world. It was also only 19 years since Japan suffered a crushing defeat in WWII and the country was just emerging from the devastation that followed.
Fast forward 57 years. World Bank data showed that in 2019, Japan’s gross domestic product per capita reached $ 40,113, above the average of $ 39,412 among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. .
That’s a big jump in absolute terms as well as from 1964. At the time, Japan’s GDP per capita was only $ 843, or about half of the OECD’s $ 1,647.
The Japan of the 1960s was only on the starting line of a race to become an advanced country.
The country’s first highway was built in 1963, and its first high-speed train was launched just days before the opening ceremony, held in October 1964. The first Tokyo Olympics also spurred various construction projects. development of infrastructure, particularly sports facilities.
Although economic growth slowed in the 1990s, Japan’s GDP had still grown about 18 times since 1964, supported by robust consumption, capital investment and exports.
With this expansion of the economy, the standard of living has also improved. The starting monthly salary of a college graduate, for example, has increased tenfold over the past half-century to reach 210,200 yen ($ 1,910) in 2019.
This income growth in the post-war era boosted the population of Japan. In 1964, Japan had a population of 97.1 million, but surpassed 100 million in three years. Today, Japan, with a population of 126.2 million, is the world’s third-largest economy.
The yen also soared along with Japan’s economic growth and change in monetary policy, from a fixed rate to a floating rate in 1973. It cost 360 yen to buy a dollar in 1964. It is now increased to 110 yen to the dollar.
The appreciation of the yen has also had a huge social impact, making it much easier for Japanese people to travel abroad. This, in turn, gave Japan and the Japanese a much more globalized view of the world.
This cosmopolitan Japan is reflected in its Olympic athletes, some of whom have lived or grown up abroad, such as NBA player Yuta Watanabe and world tennis No.2 Naomi Osaka who denounced her American nationality in 2019. for its Japanese heritage.