Asia Society presents
The Asian civil society prison. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster Ligue Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. I suppose you might say that a country has really come of age at least in the modern sense of the word when it has its own worlds. And so Japan is truly presenting a showcase to the world when its expo 70 opened in Osaka. Whether this will be a hectic situation as at Expo 67 in Canada I don't know but the Japan with the Japanese people are so efficient I imagine they are planning it beautifully. Perhaps some of you are thinking of going after you do this program you may truly decide to attend at any rate. A We are fortunate in having Overton as our guest on this program
because he's very much involved with Japan and has been for years although he's a native New Yorker. Mr. Overton is chairman of the American pocket Expo 70 which will be a private American pavilion and a family he was executive director of the Japan Society in New York in the Foreign Service in Japan and Yokohama and Tokyo and seems to be I would say at home in both worlds. Mr. Overton How did that work out. What you want here is many of us who have been in the city become so much a part of Japanese life Ms Graham is one of those accidents. Back in 1936 when I graduated from college I very much needed a job. Quite by chance run across a job teaching at a university in Tokyo. I remember having to look the country up on the map I'd never been west of the Hudson River in my life. So off I went and after a fast train trip
across the United States we didn't have air travel in those days. After a train trip on a two week boat trip I landed in Yokohama on. Undertook a five year stint teaching American history and a Japanese university. Did you find it that it took you a long time to feel at home there or was this sense of strangeness but you never got over. Well we have a saying in Japan if you're going to write your book about the country do it in the first month. It was very simple for the first month but thereafter it became more and more complicated and as a result the last 35 years of my life have been involved with Japan. Now you're saying the more you know about something you know your wisdom decreases and your confusion increases. Certainly the confusion increased. I wouldn't want to explain everything about Japan today. But this is the first since Expo 67 in Canada. Now how is the site chosen for Spanish.
Well this was a decision of the first the Japanese government whether they wanted it in Tokyo or in Osaka. Tokyo. As you will recall had the Olympics a few years back so Osaka got the right to have a fair. After that they had to apply to the Bureau of international expositions in Paris this is a an international official body which governs world's affairs. For instance the Brussels fairly Montreal fair. I'm now the Osaka fair are all under an international supervisory body. Well is that competitive bidding for it. I think countries want this. I'm not sure about that. There may have been some competition. I'm sure there's going to be competition for the next player because it will be the bicentennial of the United States in 1976 and there's a question as to whether it will be Boston New York or Philadelphia. I expect but I understand that the theme for this fan is a very
poetic and idealistic lawn progress and harmony for mankind. How does this expo propose to demonstrate that it will there have to be certain kinds of missions in order to prove this point in this type affair which is a fair of the first category. Under international control you can't be too commercial. You do have to take that theme and within that theme develop. Something that is heavily cultural and educational. For instance in the American Park which is my particular sphere of interest at the fair. We're taking the general theme progress and harmony for mankind but under that our theme is reflections of America. We're trying to show American life. And our design in our area which is nine small buildings. Will be something of an American Main Street with a public square to give the Japanese some idea of life in America. How does this work actually subscribes to the American
Park. Yes it is and there he is white and you fact we have yes we have a group of states and cities and private firms who are joining in with us and putting their exhibits in with us. Thank you. Pass on their exhibits as soon as I leave the continent. Yes we do. Yes. I want to make a good impression at this expo. Yes that's right we people are thinking with the mercenary. Yeah we have to be careful on that. But I must say we've had very good luck we've got some awfully good. Participants in with us. Several states and cities and some of the major American firms who know something about world affairs and what is proper to do. In addition to this there is the United States pavilion. Yes isn't that somewhat overlapping the US federal government will have its own pavilion there. We will be right next to them by the way. And they will probably do a space show and perhaps some art. And some other things but. You know America
is a very pluralistic country there's an awful lot to show. So we don't expect any serious overlapping with the federal government. The government's pavilion then will be strictly representing the government. Yes the whole of America and it won't be quite so particularistic as ours but in the American public then which will be next to it. You have a chance to be more diversified and yes for instance they take food service this is always important if their people get hungry at Farrah's. The federal government will not be providing any food service in its own pavilion Well it seemed to us in the park that one of the best things we could do in an international fair was to show a genuine American snack bar with a variety of American foods available. Quick service and quantity service. Now we're doing that about a fifth of our area will be devoted to a vast snack bar one.
I mean if you show any other kinds of food types of say well this we do have a barbecue a Western barbecue lounge we're honoring President Johnson. Originally we called it a Sloan but then the Japanese got a little bit nervous about a wild west saloon so I renamed the setting the Western barbecue lounge but it will be fixed up like an old fashioned western saloon. Something which apneas have seen in the movies that have never really seen in daily life. Which other countries. I know there are more than 70 would be arguing human rights and maybe as you phrased the question this way Mr. Overton Why are there any important countries that by that I mean large. You know countries which are not participating. Now Ali important ones are there. The American Government of course. And the Japanese government itself. Germany France. It's really the Soviet Union and some of the Iron Curtain countries and quite a few of the African countries. And all the way down
to a small country I had never heard of which appeared last on the last the last to join up as a country named Abu Dhabi in Africa in the Persian Gulf I mean it's our sheik down there that wanted to be at Expo. But it sounds very exotic and it may have oil why they'll probably have a desolating exhibit and yes they won't have any financial problem no matter. What. Eastern European countries are not by just paying East Germany going to be there. I do not believe East Germany is there let me see Czechoslovakia in Bulgaria. And Poland. How about mainland China mainland China will not be there. But the Republic of China the Taiwan government will have an exhibit. Yeah now this town doesn't have diplomatic relations with mainland China I didn't realize that just because we don't and many other countries they follow us on that. I think this will be open then. March 15 19. Haven't
you heard it. Yeah running through September 15. Yes now I seems to me that millions of people I don't know how many of you think one is great it's really rather frightening. They are the first. The first estimate of attendance was 30 million people and much of the planning the planning for food service for the monorail for the moving sidewalks by the way you won't get tired feet at those their. Sidewalks all move on conveyor belts. All of the planning was based around 30 million and suddenly it was put up to 40 million the last estimate is now 15 million but we have a private estimate from an organization in Japan one of the private railways in the area which I think knows what it's doing. And they tell us 67 million 200000. So we're getting a little bit nervous about food supply and about accommodating the
crowd so that's what was so unfortunate was that Expo 67 spot of the beauty and wonder of their exhibits many people were very disenchanted by the lack of accommodation and I waiting in line. Yeah high prices. I hope that doesn't create a bad impression for people who might have gone on to expose 70. Well I think the Japanese are very well aware of the good points and the soft spots with Montreal. They've studied the Montreal fare for the past three years. And I think they're determined to eliminate these problems of housing and of food supply and of tired feet for instance that's the reason for the moving sidewalks. Well that part is fine but still if many more people act and use anticipate it. You won't be able to get on the moving sidewalk even if it is moving. This could be a problem. But how about the accommodations the housing the town well for a foreign gas and by the way this is very much of a showcase for the Japanese people to you know of the
67 million people coming five 95 percent are going to be Japanese people 5 percent will come from abroad. Was that on. That's all I would have thought. Be I a proportion of vinyls visiting expert. Well they're asked and it has been about 1 million. My own group thinks 2 million. And these people can be accommodated but I would say this if anybody is planning to go to Expo they'd better get their reservation in fast and do it through a travel agent. The travel agents the major travel agents all have space reserved. Now is the time to do it. Well math and also people ought to hope that this will be on and travel and living space is not always on it. This has happened in the past but I suspect that's number one on the Japanese list they won't let that happen. I'm convinced that they're prepared for everything there.
How far have they gone and in making this a Fiat come to life. Are there many buildings already out oh yes it does very well on the way. Oh yes the steel structures are already all up. Of course you know fair buildings are not permanent buildings and they move faster. We're going to have our part done by January 1st even though this deal only started to go up a month ago. It doesn't take that long to finish off an exterior and interior. Yeah everything I pity them times these buildings still attract you. It just means you're saying that they acted Janish like ghosts. There's been a lot of soul searching in Japan about that and the Japanese still don't know what they want to do with that site whether they might keep some of the buildings and make it there. University of Osaka for instance. Or whether it should all be demolished. We have all signed contracts that require us
to demolish our buildings and return the site to original condition. Whether it should be demolished and perhaps set aside for public housing or something this isn't decided in that sense affair is a waste. But of course there are other social benefits from a fare of the highway systems the new subways get all the benefits that have to be put in and we don't have to be removed just over how much space will this be a cover. It'll be about eight hundred acres it's the size of the Montreal fair for those who know New York City about the size of Central Park. It's not that we already pay for it wow that is 10 acres larger than the Japanese the Japanese or eight hundred thirty acres to be exact I think. Well after all Japan is comparatively a small country and it cannot take up a lot of spangles is not yet located. Also because in the western part of Japan or the southwest it's about three hours
from Tokyo by the new fast bullet train. What size do those bullet trains go. And that train can go 150 miles an hour even if they hold it at one hundred and twenty at the moment. But also as in the concert area Osaka Kioto and Kobe half of Japan lives down in that section. When people are planning to go and maybe more will go than even you anticipate with your good thank you. That is people from the United States. What sort of accommodations can they expect or can they specify something in advance. Oh yes they get hotels Western style hotels. Yes. But there's something else that is available which you might not know about. And there may be I'm sure there will be a set up for living in Japanese homes but I'd be inclined to recommend to a friend that we go to a Western style hotel because he has all of the amenities he wants you know quick laundry dry
cleaning an efficient telephone. But how about these lovely in Japanese as you hear about these are great if you're prepared to put up with the inconvenience is what come with and you know the telephone may not work or. I remember trying to call Guam from Kyoto last month when I. Was staying at an end and you know the end of never heard of the overseas telephone service I had to explain to them to dial 1 0 9 and get the overseas operator in Tokyo. This was out of their world. It's a great experience I do recommend that anybody going to Japan try to spend several days at an end. But if you're moving fast and if you have to be near a telephone and if you have to. Get out mail fast I guess and if you need an executive does secretarial service you better go to a hotel the way all the Japanese do. Which is a funny point. When I went on to Osaka last month the fare official said Where you staying and I
said such and such and killed him. And they said what do you have tourist staying I don't know. We never stayed in. But if someone is taking you to get you back I may never go again. You would recommend that he try to spend want to tonight in ANY Oh absolutely and yes yes. What do INS all feel what are they like. It's not the fact that they don't have a telephone. What if you're not of course the floors are covered with straw mats and one takes off his shoes before he goes into the building. You sleep on the floor you sit on the floor and you have your meals brought to it low table in that same room. And eat them there. You usually have a wonderful view of a garden just through the glass sliding doors. It's a great experience but you have to be about acrobatic. Well some people have. A little trouble getting up but often a
tendency for my foot to go to sleep sometimes. I'm trying to. So why do you take that as agility and do a cow before you go to. The expo. And with the theme progress and harmony for mankind Well they have the more emphasis on the arts and humanities than on science. What will they be given equal billing. Oh there's a great deal on science you know the Japanese have a great deal I want to show to the world and they have great electrical displays and some space displays too because as you may know the Japanese have also contributed to our space program. Through certain instruments they have made. Everyone has chosen a different theme my favorite one is the Gas Association which is chosen the theme of the laughter. This led me to wonder whether they made laughing gas or so yeah helping they didn't know that.
But there's another called Astro Rama. There's another devoted entirely to children's fairy tales that these little Japanese if you haven't yet here you will they have more exhibits than than the other countries. No there must there are 72 countries participating. But I suppose the private Japanese firms there may be 30 or 40 of them with large pavilions if you space allotted on any particular basis it was first come first serve. Oh so if you applied early enough the numbers kind of got to the location. Yeah and those who apply are applying now just haven't got any space all the space is gone. Which companies in our country are participating. Well you know I keep Coca-Cola of course is in an American Express Encyclopedia Brittanica IBM PepsiCo.
Then some states too as well as the US federal government. A week Washington State of Washington State of Hawaii state of Alaska. What would be their theme or their purpose to attract tourist tourism and in the case of Alaska investment there is a growing Japanese investment in the raw materials the resources of Alaska for instance and pulp and the lumber industry is coming in that will probably be tourism and Guam is the honeymoon capital for Japan. I should add that it's always the hotels that are full of young Japanese Honeymooners. Yeah it's like what I guess now I've always used to be but even then Emo Alaska has a particularly interesting exhibit they have a totem pole it's 100 and 30 feet high. Which is given me somewhere as to what will happen to the totem pole in the middle of a typhoon. But the engineers think they can get it stabilized. When is the typhoon
season around you pack comes in. Just about the end of August. What sort of weather should people expect. Well in general of this period March 15 through September 15 it will be very much like New York or Washington. The only exception might be the rainy season in June there's a fine rain that falls every day. But as for temperature just dress as you would for New York you'll be all right. Do more Japanese wear western dress Nava not. Yes the kimono is disappearing. Those of us who have been involved with Japan for years to decry the loss of the old customs but you talk to any Japanese woman about the kimono and she'll say it's a darn nuisance. I wouldn't be surprised if freedom and attractiveness of western dress. Except that many people feel that a Japanese woman looks prettier and I think she does too but.
Maybe they want to get in and out of a taxi and all of that she just wants to be in a western dress. And how about the food. Is there a problem with food. Would it be about this strange food that Merican. Oh no not at all. They have everything we have and it's very popular. And better meat than we have and I'd say yes I think they have some very good beef Kobe beef. Yes. What makes that be so severe I've always heard Welsh story goes that they massage the cattle and they are they feed them beer I'm told and every day they get a good massage which marbles the fat into the meat and it makes the meat very tender. So then one and since Japanese restaurants anyway are so popular here. I think many people have quite a good feeling or understanding of Japan in a way before the oh yeah I don't think an American will have any trouble you can get his own food or you can try some Japanese at the fair he can get a great variety. A final question for you is Mr. Overton for people who don't want to fly how can they get to
Japan and we have we have ships across the Pacific you could take a cruise across I'm sure that several lines will be planning. Yes I think I have the maps in line. Is having a special cruise an expo cruise. Yes and the president line I think they they they have cruises Yes. So one can get that you can get their family. I'm going to be rather fun to get a ship that would tie up in Kobe for instance and you just dash over the fare and only takes a half an hour. And finally what did you pan hope that this will do for Japan. Well this is very important for Japan you know it's the her first emergence with the World's Fair. It's a showcase on the world. It's a way of bringing a message to the world that there is a new Japan. And after all it's the third or third greatest industrial power in the world today. The sphere is going to show that. I thank you very much for making this big come to life so soon. And I think just listening to what you have to say would make us all want to go and I wish for everyone listening that he
can go. Our guest on this edition of the Asia Society presents been Douglas Overton. Mr. Overton was formerly director of the Japan Society in New York and now he's chairman of the American park at Expo 70 which is you have been hearing is a great player to be held in Japan from March 15th 970 to September 30. Thank you very much and good luck concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. The series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of The Asia self-id presents.
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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