XII Olympiad Tokyo 1940


Haniwa version of Japan olympic poster in 1940

Since the “Mukden Incident” (in Japan) or the “Liutiaohu Incident” (in China), relations between Japan and China continued to worsen. In September, 1931, the Japanese military blew up a Japanese railway in South Manchuria. The explosion did very little damage, but provided the pretext for the Imperial Japanese Army to invade China in an attempt to find the “terrorists”. The years of occupation culminated in the Second Sino-Japanese War, a conflict that resulted in millions if not tens of millions of deaths from 1937 to 1945.

But prior to Japan’s invasion of China, the organizing committee for the 1940 Tokyo Olympics began its preparations. And one of the first things they did was to hold a contest for the best poster depicting the pride and excitement of the upcoming Olympic Games in Japan. One could surmise, based on past posters of Olympic Games in Berlin, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam, and Paris, that the imagery would be a celebration of the Classic human body – Greek-like and beautiful.

Japan’s Olympic art for the 1940 Games took more of a historical bent.

XII Olympiad Tokyo 1940
Source: theolympians.co