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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 25 - 31  > Japan’s ‘sports mecca’ to undergo redevelopment associated with the Olympic Games
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2020 March 25 - 31 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japan’s ‘sports mecca’ to undergo redevelopment associated with the Olympic Games

March 28, 2020

Akahata ‘current’ column

Japan’s “sports mecca” is now in danger. A mammoth redevelopment project is underway in Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu Gaien district (Shinjuku and Minato wards) which has been known for its high density of sports facilities, including the national athletic stadium, baseball stadiums, and ice-skating rink.

Under the project, Jingu Stadium and adjoining Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium will exchange places and will be entirely reconstructed. In addition, four buildings will be built, including two skyscrapers of at least 185 meters in height. On the other hand, existing sports facilities in the district -- Jingu Secondary Stadium, six rubber-ball baseball grounds, futsal courts, and a batting practice range -- will all disappear. The Japanese Communist Party took up this issue in a recent meeting of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and criticized the project for negatively affecting people’s right to enjoy sports.

Sports facilities in the Meiji Jingu Gaien area are very popular among Tokyo residents as the district is close to multiple train stations and provides urban green spaces. The rubber-ball baseball fields host 4,000 amateur games each year.

“Meiji Jingu Gaien” means the Outer Garden (gaien) of the Meiji Shrine (jingu). Religious Corporation Meiji Jingu owns the land in the Meiji Jingu Gaien district. The redevelopment project was drawn up by a major developer and has been pushed forward by the Tokyo Metropolitan government with the relaxation of relevant regulations. It is said that in public briefings on the project, many local residents expressed their opposition by saying angrily, “Don’t ruin the landscape!” “A religious corporation should not be in pursuit of monetary gain!”

The Meiji Jingu Gaien district was developed to commemorate Emperor Meiji with donations from the general public. After the end of WWII, there were heated discussions about whether the facilities in the district should be administered by Meiji Jingu or by the national government. Given the public nature of the area, the local residents’ protest against the redevelopment project has solid justification.

Tokyo’s stance toward the redevelopment project is also problematic. To promote the controversial redevelopment project is unsuitable for the host city of the next Olympic and Paralympic Games as the Olympic Charter states, “The practice of sport is a human right”.

Past related article:
> Tokyo residents petition governor not to demolish public housing for 2020 Olympics [June 23, 2015]
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