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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 October 14 - 20  > Tokyo Olympics should not be used to provide big businesses with huge profits
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2015 October 14 - 20 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Tokyo Olympics should not be used to provide big businesses with huge profits

October 20, 2015
The Abe government is pushing ahead with a plan to redevelop the capital area under the pretext of hosting the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Regarding this issue, Saitama University Professor Emeritus Iwami Ryotaro argues that the Tokyo Olympics should be an opportunity for creating a more livable, people-friendly community. The following is an excerpt of Iwami’s interview with Akahata:

The Abe government’s economic strategy “Abenomics” regards large cities as tools to boost Japan’s international competitiveness. Claiming that it is impossible for Japan to survive fierce global competition without further developing metropolitan areas, the government is working to turn Japan into “the most business-friendly country in the world”.

Taking advantage of the Tokyo Summer Games in 2020, the Abe administration is moving ahead with a project to redevelop the Tokyo metropolitan area on a grand scale. Actually, this project is only helping big businesses to gain huge profits.

In response to the request from financial circles, state authorities designated some urban and coastal districts in Tokyo as “National Strategic Special Zones” and considerably relaxed the regulations on development projects. Thanks to these measures, large private developers were able to develop those areas as they like while enjoying every form of preferential treatment from the government. Mitsubishi Estate Company, one of such leading developers, announced at the end of August a plan to construct Japan’s highest tower building near Tokyo Station by 2027, which will be 390 meters in height and have 680,000 square meters in total floor space.

The redevelopment plan of Tokyo is made up of three “mega” projects. The first is a “mega infrastructure” project to build three beltways in the metropolitan area as well as improve Haneda and Narita airports. The second is to form a new “megalopolis” composed of Tokyo and its six surrounding prefectures. The third is a “super-mega-region” project which will connect Tokyo with the western metropolitan regions of Nagoya and Osaka by a maglev train line (called the Linear Chuo Shinkansen Line). It is obvious that these projects will help to hasten an economic collapse in rural areas and aggravate the problems associated with the over-concentration of businesses and population in Tokyo.

It is anticipated that the population of Tokyo will begin to decrease about five years after the Tokyo Olympics. With the aging of the population, the workforce in Tokyo will shrink. Accordingly, both the demand for office space and the amount of traffic will decline as well. After all, the general public, including Tokyoites, will end up having to pay for these large-scale development projects.

The need now is to take effective measures in response to the aging of the population, the falling birthrate, and the possibility of major natural disasters.

After the 2012 Summer Games, London authorities converted the Olympic village into a residential area for low-income families. Their stance is a striking contrast to the Tokyo Metropolitan government trying to demolish public housing in order to construct a gigantic national stadium for the coming Olympics.

Past related article:
> Tokyo JCP to Olympic Minister: Don’t demolish public housing complex to build Olympic stadium [August 5, 2015]
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