The buzzword for the March 11, 2011 disaster had been kizuna - the sense of communal spirit born out of supporting victims of the tragedy.

In their hearts, officials say they hope the Olympic Games will promote a similar spirit of patience, courage, discipline and determination essential for the rebuilding of Japan. How to spread that message to as many people as possible remains an issue, even though the voting for the 2020 host city is less than four months away.

"I can understand the need to target IOC members who will do the actual voting in September," said Mr Kazuo Ogoura, secretary-general to an advisory council overseeing Tokyo's bid.

"But we also need to spread our message widely around the world as the IOC members are likely to take into account the social trends around the time of voting."

It will not be the first time that Japan is looking to the Olympics to provide a spiritual lift to the nation. The country first hosted the Olympics in 1964. It was an event seen as a showcase for Japan's post-war economic achievements, a transformation from a defeated nation to a roaring economy that took less than 20 years to accomplish. It was also the first Olympics to be held in Asia.

But the Japanese also see the 1964 Games against the backdrop of their country's post-war reconstruction when the nation had to go through hard times as it sought to rise from the ashes of war.

Ironically, Japan was to have hosted the Games in 1940.

Officials point out that the bid for the 1940 Games also took place at a time when Tokyo had yet to fully recover from the horrific destruction of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, whose tremors and the fires they started destroyed much of the Japanese capital.

At the time, the Japanese were motivated to host their first Olympics by a desire to whip up the national spirit and to give the people a target to focus on during the period of reconstruction.

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