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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 October 21 - 27  > Komaki City cancels contract with major bookstore chain over city library construction plan
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2015 October 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Komaki City cancels contract with major bookstore chain over city library construction plan

October 22, 2015
The mayor of Komaki City (Aichi Prefecture) on October 20 announced that the city will withdraw a controversial plan to closely collaborate with a major bookstore chain on the construction of a new public library after the plan was voted down in a referendum earlier this month.

Last year, Mayor Yamashita Shizuo decided to adopt a public-private partnership approach in building a new city library. The city government concluded an advisory contract with Culture Convenience Club Co., Ltd. (CCC), which operates the “TSUTAYA” video rental shops and bookstores across the country. This advisory contract is about the basic design of a new library building, but the city government was also considering appointing the company as a designated administrator of the facility in the future.

Many citizens, however, expressed their anxiety about the private company’s deep involvement in the basic design and operation of the public facility. Some argued that if the operation of the public library is entirely outsourced to for-profit corporations, the number of staff would be drastically reduced and therefore the quality of services would deteriorate. Others feared that the operator might misuse citizens’ borrowing records for business purposes. Opponents criticized the mayor for pushing forward with his controversial project without listening to the concerns of the public.

As citizens submitted to the city government more than 6,000 signatures calling for a referendum on the so-called “TSUTAYA library” plan, the assembly in the September session decided to seek the judgement of the residents. In the referendum held on October 4, 55% of the voters cast a “No” vote to the mayor’s proposal.

Mayor Yamashita on October 20 submitted a written statement to the assembly and stated that he will accept the outcome of the referendum and thoroughly review the current plan in accordance with the opinions of the assembly and citizens, adding that the city will cancel the advisory contract with CCC.

Japanese Communist Party member of the city assembly Sato Daisuke welcomed the cancellation of the contract. He stressed that he will work to collect opinions from a wide range of the public in order to help draw up a new library construction plan.
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