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In the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gov. Ryotaro Azuma called the games an opportunity to build a new Tokyo and a new Japan. Azuma’s vision materialized with resounding success. For postwar Japan, the games were a watershed moment, transforming Tokyo’s infrastructure and reconstructing the nation’s identity. We should not expect a repeat performance in 2020.

When the Olympic flame returns to Tokyo next summer, expectations will be high for the event to once again transform the city and the country. Organizers want the games to “change the future of Japan.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sees the Olympics as “vitalizing … the whole of Japan.”

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