For the next Japan Society webinar, we are delighted to welcome Robert Whiting, author of the recent book Tokyo Junkie: 60 Years of Bright Lights and Back Alleys... and Baseball, who joins Japan Society Chairman Bill Emmott for a conversation following the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Can there ever have been a bigger contrast between two Olympics than between 1964, an Olympic Games widely seen as symbolically marking Japan’s re-emergence on the world stage in a mesmerising cocktail of modernisation and transformation, and the 2021 Games staged in front of empty stadiums amid the pandemic and states of emergency, but in front of worldwide television audiences? And yet the sporting achievements of 2021 have caught many imaginations, while the Japanese public drew special pleasure from their team winning the baseball gold medal by defeating the United States.
Our conversation will try to assess what the recent Games have meant for Japan and the world, culturally, economically and politically, while looking also at how Tokyo has evolved since 1964, both in its brighter, more public aspects and in its grimier ways. To the British, the relationship between Japan and the United States, whether over baseball, security or politics, has always been by turns intriguing, baffling and frustrating, so we will assess that, too, as well as pondering that ultimate UK-Japan historical question: why didn’t cricket catch on, while baseball did?
With the Olympics and Paralympics ensuring Japan’s capital has been front and centre in the news this summer, join us for what is sure to be an insightful, entertaining discussion.