World Cup and Japanese Society
J. Sean Curtin (Professor, Japanese Red Cross University)
This comment originally appeared in the "Japan-U.S. Discussion Fourm" (http://lists.nbr.org/japanforum) on June 16, 2002: posted here with the author's permission.
The current World Cup success of both Korea and Japan is lifting the spirits of these two nations and may well have a positive influence on their economies. Further success for Japan might create the much needed feel good factor, which could help stimulate economic recovery. Soccer prowess is great for national self-confidence, especially in an age when soccer has become the one and only true global sport.
Presumably, the South Koreans will do their best to get to the quarter-finals to equal the North Korean record. To date, the furthest any Asian team has ever progressed in the World Cup is to the quarter-finals when North Korea was beaten by Portugal back in 1966 (the year England won the World Cup).
In Japan, the threat of invasion by an army of merciless hooligans determined to lay the country to waste has turned out to be a piece of media frenzy. The incident-free nature of the tournament has finally forced the media to reflect on the ridiculous overkill of its pre-World Cup coverage. What the tournament has actually done is boost the overseas image of both Japan and Korea who are currently basking in World Cup glory (as is the USA). Asian soccer has also been firmly put on the world map. Below is a good selection of articles about the issues touched on above.
Note: In British English football means soccer while what Americans call football is normally referred to as American football.
Hooligan fears prove unfounded The Japan Times, 14 June 2002
English fans impressed by Japanese hosts The Japan Times, 10 June 2002
The rising stars of football (South Korea and Japan). BBC World, Saturday, 15 June 2002
World Cup fever grips the nation as Japan advances to second round The Japan Times, 15 June 2002
Furigan fears prompt school safety drills The Japan Times 14 June 2002
1966 - England's finest hour BBC World, Friday, 29 March 2002
World Cup 2002 Team Pages: USA