A movement has been launched to rescind the name selected for the new station on Tokyo's Yamanote loop line situated between Shinagawa and Tamachi, which is scheduled to commence operation from 2020.
As of 6 p.m. on Dec 10, an online petition to halt use of the new name had already garnered over 12,000 signatures.
"In the public campaign for entries to name the station, Takanawa and Shibaura received the most votes," popular columnist and illustrator Mineko Nomachi, who's spearheading the petition, told Nikkan Gendai (Dec 11). "Instead, Takanawa Gateway, which ranked 130th, was selected.
"That completely negates the meaning of holding a campaign in the first place. And it's also a betrayal to the people who submitted entries," Nomachi fumed. "I started circulating the petition to draw attention to the dishonesty of whoever was behind picking the name. "
The Takanawa district is adjacent to where the old Tokaido ("Eastern Sea Route") passed, and the area served as an entry point -- or gateway -- to those arriving at Edo, Tokyo's forerunner in pre-modern times.
Among the complaints concerning the name is that at nine syllables, Takanawa Gateway is "too long." Some Japanese, particularly elderly people, are unfamiliar with word "Ge-e-to-we-i"; others simply oppose the use of English in station names, which they see as unnecessary or inappropriate.
When the J-Town Net website conducted an online survey of people's reaction to the name, 95.8% of the respondents agreed that "It would be better to change to another name."
Sadamaro Aida, a journalist who writes about travel and transportation, remarked that the name selection process appears to be no more than a "pretext."
"Over a year ago, East Japan Railways announced its development plan for the new station between Tamachi and Shinagawa, which it tentatively named 'Global Gateway Shinagawa,'" Aida said. "So it appears that use of Gateway had already been decided upon, in which case there's was nothing to be done about it. I sense the government was involved, much like the scandal that occurred over initial selection of the 2020 Olympic Games emblem, which raised a huge ruckus three years ago. At that time, the percentage of people who favored dropping the emblem and selecting a new one was around 96%."
Aida told Nikkan Gendai he could only recall a few rare cases when the name of a station, for whatever reason, was changed, such as the former "Matsubara Danchi" on the Tobu Isesaki Line, which was changed to Dokkyo Daigaku-mae to associate it with the nearby university. Another example he recalls, was in Kansai, when Sakai-shi was changed, first to Hanwa Sakai, then to Sakai Kanaoka and then back to Sakai-shi again.
"If several hundred thousands signatures can be collected, there's a chance East Japan Railways will consider changing the name," Aida tells the newspaper. "But once the station goes into service, there's no possibility of a change, because of high costs that would be incurred in converting all the signs, indications on ticket vending machines and so on. So if it's going to be changed at all, it will have to happen before the station comes into use."© Japan Today