TOKYO — Half a century ago, the Tokyo Olympics ushered in a golden age for Japan’s capital, as industrial prowess had made it the largest urban complex in history. Now, the Games are returning to mark the end of that growth.
“This will be the final festival,” said Mr Yasunari Ueno, 52, Tokyo-based chief market economist at Mizuho Securities.
In Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, the ground has been cleared for a new national stadium, surrounded by a gymnasium, swimming pools, tennis courts and a baseball arena.
Elsewhere, transport systems are being upgraded and new roads, apartments and hotels are being built. The whole infrastructure upgrade may cost ¥2.7 trillion (S$29.8 billion) and, together with the Games, create more than 200,000 jobs, said Mizuho Research Institute.
Yet, once the 2020 Games are over, Tokyo faces a bleak future. It is one of only four cities among the 71 most-populous urban centres ranked by the United Nations that are poised to shrink between 2014 and 2030 — and the other three are also in Japan.
The Tokyo metropolitan area, which includes contiguous cities such as Yokohama, will experience a drop in its population by 1.7 per cent to 37.2 million, said the UN.
By 2030, it will be neck and neck with Delhi in the competition for the world’s biggest metropolis. Last year, it was more than 50 per cent bigger than the Indian city.
Tokyo also faces challenges from Manila and Jakarta, which will both have more than 30 million people in their urban areas by 2025, forecasts by Belleville, Demographia showed.
For Ms Tamiko Sato, whose husband carried the Olympic torch through the streets in 1964, the staging of the Games then and now has shown how Tokyo’s fortunes have changed. She said, like the rest of Japan, she was proud and happy then as the city took centre stage in the world.