Tokyo Olympics 2020: Unity in Diversity – from a mega-event motto to social change of diversity?

Sakura Yamamura

Why do cities strive to carry out mega-events such as the Olympic Games? The focus has mainly been on the economic effects: mega-events bring in new investments and funding for urban development and rejuvenation projects, becoming a key driver for economic development for the whole city-region and the country. Yet, the socio-cultural aspects of such events have increasingly also come into focus in the recent years, with expectations high to also leave social and cultural legacies behind. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has taken “Unity and Diversity” as one of its mottos in times of migration-led diversification of societies worldwide and recent migration policy changes as well as rising social movements in diversity issues in Japan to present itself as an open and cosmopolitan country for diversity.

This project focuses on the recent developments of policy and public debates regarding diversity in Japan, in particular against the momentum of the mega-events of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. It follows the questions which measures have been taken by governmental actors, as well as whether and how these mega-events contribute to the perception and acceptance of diversity in the Japanese society beyond the events. The project looks into the involvement and actions of civil society organizations representing different aspects of diversity, i.e. gender minority, disabled as well as ethnic minorities. Special focus is laid on the changes of everyday practices and perceptions of socio-spaces for diversity from the perspective of the minorities themselves. Research will be conducted in collaboration with the German Institute for Japan Studies (DIJ Tokyo). The project is also carried out in conjuncture with the Institute for Research into Superdiversity’s (IRiS) NODE initiative (New and Old Diversity Exchange UK-Japan network).

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