Like the 1964 Olympics, the 2020 Summer Games are expected to have a positive impact not only economically but psychologically as well. They will also offer Japan the chance to set an example for the industrialized world, to demonstrate that despite its troubles — deflation, a rapidly aging population and scars from a triple disaster — it can still pull off the world's biggest sports event.

Consider Japan's demographics in 2020 compared with 1964.

According to government statistics, in 1965, just a year after the Tokyo Olympics, people 65 or older made up only 6.3 percent of the 99.2 million population. By 2020, the ratio is expected to be 29.1 percent for a population of 124.1 million.