The Japanese sports industry now has a great opportunity to become a growing industry.

Worldwide attention will be on Japan as many athletes and sports fans will visit the host country of the Rugby World Cup 2019, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Kansai World Masters Games in 2021.

With these events approaching, Japan will host the World Forum on Sport and Culture from Wednesday through Saturday, in which governmental officials and business people related to sports and culture from more than 50 countries will participate in discussions on how sports can contribute to world peace and prosperity.

“Now that the Rio de Janeiro Games are finished, Tokyo is at the center of international attention. The World Forum on Sport and Culture is a very good opportunity to promote the Rugby World Cup 2019, the first ever to be held in Asia, and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” said Manabu Nago, deputy director, Olympic and Paralympic Games Division, Japan Sports Agency.

The agency has high hopes for the forum to kick-start a movement to activate the sports industry. It aims to increase the revenue of the sports industry to ¥10.9 trillion in 2020 from ¥5.5 trillion in 2012. The target revenue for 2025 is ¥15.2 trillion.

The forum is divided into two parts, with one in Kyoto taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, and focusing on culture. The other will take place in Tokyo Thursday through Saturday and cover sports and business, as well as culture. The Tokyo venue is Grand Hyatt Tokyo, in Minato Ward’s Roppongi district.

On Thursday, a sports session, titled “Appeal of Rugby, Power of the Rugby World Cup,” will be held. As Japan will be the first Asian country to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019, the discussion will look at how to spread the appeal of rugby to other Asian countries, how to boost the sport’s popularity and the potential social and economic growth brought about by the world cup in the host country and elsewhere.

Speakers include World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, Japan Rugby Football Union President Tadashi Okamura, Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee Chairman Fujio Mitarai and Asia Rugby Vice President Aga Hussain, among others.

Following the rugby discussion, speeches and a panel discussion by government officials and business leaders will be held.

Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont and World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab will greet and speak at the event.

Panel discussion members will be Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirokazu Matsuno and five economy ambassadors of the World Forum on Sport and Culture. The ambassadors are ANA Holdings Inc. President and CEO Shinya Katanozaka, Sompo Holdings, Inc. Group CEO, President and Chief Executive Officer Kengo Sakurada, NEC Corp. Chairman of the Board Nobuhiro Endo, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. Director, President Akio Negishi and Mori Building Co. President and CEO Shingo Tsuji.

On Friday, Olympians and Paralympians will hold a discussion, titled “Legacies fostered by the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” followed by the Sports Ministers’ Meeting that will see sports ministers and delegates from around 50 countries gathering to discuss various issues.

The minister and Sports Agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki are expected to discuss “Sport for Tomorrow,” a philanthropic movement in which Japan has pledged to promote sport to more than 10 million people in over 100 nations until 2020.

Concrete plans include inviting young athletes to Japan for training, promoting anti-doping campaigns and sending people to give advice on physical education at elementary schools outside Japan.

“Sports have a lot to do with peace and development. For example, juvenile delinquents can reform themselves through sports. Countries in conflict hold sporting events to have exchanges and build friendship,” Nago said, adding that such topics will be discussed during the Sports Ministers’ Meeting.

Discussions at the Sports Ministers’ Meeting and other symposiums in the forum will be referenced at UNESCO’s sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport, or MINEPS VI, which will take place in Kazan, Russia, in June 2017.

On the international stage of discussions on sports’ contribution, Japan is not only in a position to provide support, but also to learn from other developed countries that are advanced in establishing a solid foundation for the sports industry.

The momentum for the Japanese government to boost the sports industry came about fairly recently as Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in September 2013 and the Sports Agency was inaugurated in October 2015. Under such circumstances, companies have gradually become interested in bringing sports into their business portfolios.

As part of Japan’s Revitalization Strategy 2016 targeting a nominal gross domestic product of ¥600 trillion, the Sports Agency will take measures to stimulate the economy by building and refurbishing stadiums and other sports facilities across the nation, as well as nurturing human resources who can turn sports into profitable business.

For example, the agency held its first meeting with the public and private sectors to discuss how to expand the sports industry, joined by agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki, sports business executives, local government leaders and academia, in July.

“If sports is a content business, they have to increase the value of the content. It’s therefore essential to strengthen the skill of managing sports events,” said Daiki Matsuyama of the sports agency. “Therefore, training people to be savvy in sports and business is also important.”

The agency also supports municipalities in remote areas to promote sports, which can boost tourism.

Business viewpoint on mapping better world

The “business” aspect of the World Forum on Sport and Culture are publicprivate workshops, which will be held in Tokyo all day Friday.

There are 26 sessions in total that discuss business in regards to sports, culture, technology and other areas. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology and partner companies produced 17 of them, while the World Economic Forum produced nine.

“Basically, the workshops are about mapping a better world from the business viewpoint,” said Kumi Fujisawa, advisor to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology, as well as head, Office of World Forum on Sport and Culture.

The workshops have four pillars, namely “Addressing the Aging Society,” “Mastering the Digital Revolution,” “Innovation for 2020 and beyond” and “Building a Human-Centered Economy.”

The sessions include those titled “Future Tokyo as Innovative City,” “Bridging the Gap Between Athletes and the Public,” “Sustainable Management: 1300 Years of History of the Todai-ji Temple” and “Your Health in a Virtual World.”

In the Youth Program, co-hosted by the ministry and ETI C. (Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities), next-generation leaders will participate a symposium, “Co-creating the Future for 2020 and Beyond Symposium,” in which they discuss what a sustainable society should be like. Participants include International Olympic Committee Head of Engagement Cedric Daetwyler, Community Solutions CEO Rosanne Haggerty and Rides for Lives Founder & CEO Christopher Ategeka.

Download the PDF of this World Forum on Sport and Culture

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