One of the things that has not changed in Japan since 1964 is how people outside Japan view the Japanese. No matter where you go, people will say the Japanese are kind, courteous, helpful and respectful. One can argue that the reason the Japanese behave this way is because they truly care about this perception, and will work hard to ensure this view. This UPI report from January 2, 1964, 10 months before the commencement of the XVIII Olympiad, describes this mindset.
The major worry of government, civic and business leaders is not the unfinished projects. It’s the impressions of the Japanese people which the visitors to the games are likely to take home. Will they remember the Japanese as dignified, cultured and courteous, or as a people beset with social ills.
My wife just yesterday found a bag sitting on a shelf on top of an ATM machine, and she brought it to the local police station. The person who lost the bag, which contained a wallet, will be relieved that he/she lives in Japan. There is no other major metropolis in the world where you can expect a lost valuable returned.
Three days before the opening of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, a high school teacher carrying the tickets targeted for students in his school, simply lost them while buying a box of cigarettes. They were returned right away to a local police station, but one can assume this teacher nearly had a heart attack. Moral of the story – smoking is bad for your health.
1. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” The Beatles
2. “She Loves You” The Beatles
3. “Hello, Dolly!” Louis Armstrong
4. “Oh, Pretty Woman” Roy Orbison
5. “I Get Around” The Beach Boys
6. “Everybody Loves Somebody” Dean Martin
7. “My Guy” Mary Wells
8. “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” Gale Garnett
9. “Last Kiss” J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
10. “Where Did Our Love Go” The Supremes
No surprises. But according to swimmer Dick Roth, gold medal winner of the Men’s 400 meter individual medley race in Tokyo, the song he remembers from that time is Lonnie Donegan’s “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose it’s Flavour?”
The journalism of the 1960s had a bit to be desired at times. UPI used the indelicate way of asking why so many smaller, less developed nations were participating in the Tokyo Olympic Games. It wasn’t a quote – it was UPI editorializing quite matter of factly – “why do the losers bother to come”? Burma, Malaysia, Pakistan, Mali, Senegal, Mali – in fact 20 new nations were participating in the Olympics for the first time in 1964. The answer given in the article by the chef de mission of Burma – “We’re here to learn”. Good answer.
Hosting the 1964 Olympic Games was hugely significant for Japan as it returned to the global stage as a peaceful, economically confident nation. It was also a massive undertaking, with some estimates suggesting Tokyo spent the equivalent of its national budget on a major building program that transformed the city’s infrastructure–a far cry from plans for a slimmed-down 2020 summer games. – Wall Street Journal
This was my father’s identity card for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Through his work for NBC News, and NBC’s sustained relationship to the Olympic Games, I was a fan of the greatest sports competition in the world. I was only one years-old at the time of the Tokyo Olympic Games, and of course remember nothing of it. But come 2020, when the Summer Games return to Tokyo, I will be there.