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The Tokyo the World Needs

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are an occasion for the city's residents to consider how they want to be seen by the world, and how they see themselves. They should consider the Games a defining moment, just as the 1964 Games were a defining moment for postwar Japan.

TOKYO – Truly great cities capture our imagination, even when we have never visited them. Paris conjures renewal and love, New York is about hustle and dynamism, and London represents staid charm. Istanbul speaks of mystery, Rio de Janeiro of zestful libertinism, and Shanghai of rapid reinvention.

And then there’s Tokyo. Of all the world’s great cities, the world’s largest seems to lend itself least to glib reveries.

It doesn’t help that Hollywood often caricatures Tokyo beyond recognition. In the 1980s and 1990s, when Japan posed a serious challenge to the United States’ global economic primacy, films such as Rising Sun, starring Sean Connery, and Black Rain, starring Michael Douglas, portrayed Tokyo in classic film-noir terms – shadowy, menacing, and peopled by grotesque composites of corporate titans and Yakuza gangsters.

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