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Can Tokyo be transformed into a 24-hour city?

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On April 15 during a visit to New York, Tokyo Gov Naoki Inose remarked that as a tentative first step to transforming Tokyo into a "24-hour city," he hoped to see round-the-clock bus services between Roppongi and Shibuya go into operation by the end of this year.

The moves to all-night transportation in Japan's major urban areas, some vernacular media have reported, might be seen as another aspect of deregulatory measures being mulled as part of the "Abenomics" stimulus.

This idea, concedes Weekly Playboy (May 20), may be worth consideration, but to do it right is going to take a lot more than just running buses between two frequently traveled points in the city.

"That news was incorrectly reported," says Eiji Hara, a former METI bureaucrat who is now a policy consultant. "The government is not considering 24-hour public transport for Tokyo. The notion of 'special strategic Abenomics districts' originated from a proposal from Diet member Heizo Takenaka -- but even that was no more than one line, suggesting '24-hour operation of the Toei subway lines,' that was incorporated in several dozen pages of materials."

Economic analyst Takuro Morinaga thinks even that would be a bad idea. "Trains running all night would spell disaster for the taxi companies," he said. "Drivers' livelihoods would be hit hard. And with 24-hour transportation available, companies would try to squeeze more unpaid overtime from their workers than they do now.

"Operating round the clock might have some economic benefits," Morinaga warns. "But it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals. That might further widen income disparities among Tokyoites."

Yokohama National University professor Fumihiko Nakamura points out that unlike the subways in New York or London, Tokyo lacks parallel sets of tracks, which enable maintenance on one set while the other remains in use. Another problem would be the longer commuting distances.

"Tokyo commuters average about one hour to work," says Nakamura. "To get the workers home in the wee hours, bus lines would have to be extended to the distant suburbs. It's no wonder that ideas, which ignore these realities, are being criticized."

If the city is going to run late-night buses or trains, it might as well give people places to go. So Weekly Playboy also suggests dropping restrictions requiring clubs, cabarets and other forms of adult entertainment to close at midnight.

"It would be meaningless to only have 24-hour urban transport," remarks Takashi Kiso, CEO of the International Casino Institute. "The other city functions should also be expanded to 24 hours...I think it would be absolutely necessary to revise the current regulations restricting adult entertainment businesses that serve late-night customers."

Another possibility, Kiso suggests, would be to take advantage of the city's "unused" times, for example running late-night buses directly from Haneda Airport to hotel-casino complexes to be built around Shinagawa or Odaiba.

Asked if he wasn't concerned such moves might lead to a deterioration of law and order, Kiso replied, "It's quite the opposite. Since such businesses aren't permitted to operate at present, they've been forced underground; so if trouble breaks out, the police aren't summoned. But if, in conjunction with 24-hour transportation, the adult entertainment industry is allowed to operate legally, it will be possible to assign police patrols and the shops themselves will cooperate with the authorities to prevent crime. The streets would become safer."

The magazine closes with its own suggestions for transforming Tokyo into a "true" 24-hour city. These include not charging fares for driving the Metropolitan Expressway during late-night and early morning hours, thereby making crosstown bus runs more affordable; designating "special business zones" to be served by such buses, and allowing the businesses there to operate round the clock; permitting foreign tourist attractions such as Kabukiza or maid coffee shops and public baths to operate round the clock; and setting up special late-night bus terminals, adjacent to 24-hour shared office facilities, with the aim of facilitating currency traders and so on who can operate in synch with markets overseas.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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“Operating round the clock might have some economic benefits,” Morinaga warns. “But it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals. That might further widen income disparities among Tokyoites.”

And the blatantly racist head sticks up again! Just another way of saying it's the foreigners "fault" for problems that may arise from moving forward.

14 ( +20 / -7 )

" But it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals."

And what is the logic behind his statement?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

How can Tokyo be more overrun than it already is?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It is already a 24hour city in certain areas and aspects.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"It is already a 24hour city in certain areas and aspects."

It is but it's "underground" and not so visible.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Before you get all worked up about the "multinationals" comment, remember that this is Weekly Playboy, a tabloid at best, and not a serious news outlet.

Until the unused hours when transportation is running are utilized, I frankly don't see the need for round-the-clock transport. Many shops don't open until 10 am, a good 5 hours after the trains start running. And those are 5 hours of daylight due to Japan's screwy time zone.

The main benefit for 24 hour a day train service is for those who want to go out drinking past midnight but don't want to make it an all-nighter. Maybe expanded late night bus service to the suburbs would help those out late (shorter taxi rides), but maintaining train lines when there is no break in service would be difficult to day the least.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As for trains ----> Tokyo SHOULD be a 24 hour city. Taxi drivers can go and cry. Taxis are too expensive... their fault!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

“Trains running all night would spell disaster for the taxi companies,” he said. “Drivers’ livelihoods would be hit hard.

I call BS!! Taxi's are so expensive here that most of the people that need after hours transport (late night drinkers, clubbers) will not use them - its cheaper to get a hotel for the night, or just keep drinking till first train.

And the people who can afford them, would still use them regardless of whether there is a 24hr train or not. These people catch taxis home at 10pm even though there are trains available, so it wouldnt make a difference for them.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I, too, would worry that pushing for a 24-hour mass transit system would force more unpaid overtime. I remember walking through Shinagawa station at 11:00PM and seeing it packed with salarymen going home from work. A salaryman friend of mine who had gotten out "early" at 9PM remarked it's always like this and he finds it "disgusting" that people are forced to work so late. I'm sure a good portion of those who are going home at those times are doing so because it's the last trains home. In all reality this would only benefit the tourists and the company owners who could in essence force their workers to stay 24 hours or more. I've only had to work that hard a few times in my life when a new product was in testing and schedule was tight. It shouldn't be that way all the time. I have to ask "why?" when someone says Tokyo should become a 24 hour city. NYC and American freewheeling culture are what make it possible. Japan doesn't have that, nor should it push for that just to rise up a few notches on some tourism board's list of "alpha" cities or some rubbish like that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

On April 15 during a visit to New York, Tokyo Gov Naoki Inose remarked that as a tentative first step to transforming Tokyo into a “24-hour city,” he hoped to see round-the-clock bus services between Roppongi and Shibuya go into operation by the end of this year.

What a lame "tentative first step"!

Economic analyst Takuro Morinaga thinks even that would be a bad idea. “Trains running all night would spell disaster for the taxi companies,” he said. “Drivers’ livelihoods would be hit hard.

So, because taxi drivers want to overcharge people for sub-par service, everyone has to just accept that?

And with 24-hour transportation available, companies would try to squeeze more unpaid overtime from their workers than they do now.

Well then, bring in legislation that limits the amount of hours for overtime work and enforce them- which you aren't doing now because companies make employees do overtime without pay. Get rid of that.

“Operating round the clock might have some economic benefits,” Morinaga warns. “But it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals. That might further widen income disparities among Tokyoites.”

And here is the real meat of the article= Foreigners are bad for Japan.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Sadly, Morinaga's comment is totally congruent with the usual level of reason and debate here. It was blatantly racist but just as bad is that it is a non sequitur. Economic analyst, indeed. "Move along folks. Nothing to learn here"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

permitting foreign tourist attractions such as Kabukiza or maid coffee shops and public baths to operate round the clock Eh? These are "foreign attractiions"? 24 hour stuff like clubs and bars and dodgy venues and quite a few restaurants already 24/7. Taxis also run all night. Stupid article.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tokyo has been a 24-hour city since I first got here. In my younger days I'd party round the clock in such places as Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Ueno and the Ginza. Never worried about missing the last train 'cause only several hours later and the first trains would start to roll.

Having a 24-hour public transport system would only give Tokyo an even more 24-hour look.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Weekly Playboy also suggests dropping restrictions requiring clubs, cabarets and other forms of adult entertainment to close at midnight.

Like any of them do now. Most clubs in roppongi aresume open til 5, which is later than typical clubs in the states.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The least the government could do is suggest that all public transport would run 24 hours during the Olympics, should they be awarded to Tokyo. Because shutting down at midnight is going to be a definite shortcoming during the games.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Takuro Morinaga is same "tv personality and economic analyst" who proposed a tax on "handsome men"

http://www.japancrush.com/2012/pictures/tax-handsome-men-increase-birthrate-says-economic-analyst.html

and judging by the look of him, he won't be paying any tax any time soon...

His comments about the 24hr tokyo are spurious at best.. please, tokyo being overrun by foreign nationals? If tokyo wants to truly be seen as an International City... get used to it

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Don't know why foreign nationals are a concern in Tokyo but the population literally doubled with foreigners where I lived back home, (admittedly a lot were were from interstate), and this put a tremendous strain on public transport.

Also made things very difficult for locals to find decent employment thanks to "equal opportunity" laws. Gutless employers hire foreigners over locals because they don't want to get sued as being "racist". Locals had the choice of moving themselves or doing crappy work nobody else wanted.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

“Trains running all night would spell disaster for the taxi companies

That is Tokyo's biggest problem there is no limits on the number of taxi's in Tokyo so there are over 300,000 taxi's!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

then some people will probably work at the office past current "last train" time if it happen. Not a good idea...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It would seem that "foreign multinationals" referred to by Morinaga is a reference to the Japan branches of foreign securities firms and other financial institutions (gaishi-kei kigyo), which employ both foreigners and Japanese nationals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"But it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals. That might further widen income disparities among Tokyoites."

I'm really curious to hear Morinaga's explanation for why foreign multinationals might contribute to income disparities? Disparities between whom? And who would be left on the short end?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

24 hour city? I guess that would depend on how many hours it has now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“But it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals."

errrr no because (as far as the industry I work in) they are mostly moving to Hong Kong and Singapore which have tax rates and employment laws more suitable for foreign multinationals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

malfupete

please, tokyo being overrun by foreign nationals?

ReformedBasher

Don't know why foreign nationals are a concern in Tokyo

Morinaga said "it could possibly result in Tokyo metamorphosing into a city overrun by foreign multinationals."

When people say a multinational, they usually mean a corporation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We all live in Tokyo, and we all know better, we are not noobs, so we learned, now whoever complain about Roppongi trains running late, please do, nobody in Japanese government will hear you,

besides, Roppongi at night its a little dangerous, from all the people that want you to spend all your hard earn money!! ha ha ha

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It is already a 24hour city in certain areas and aspects.

Yeah, the ATMs are open 24-hours a week!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"We all live in Tokyo"

No, actually. We don't. :-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No 24 hr public transportation, no 24 hr city.!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

no 24 hr city

Moot point. Tokyo and Osaka are already de facto 24-hour cities. There are countless businesses open all night and into the morning, including restaurants, convenience stores, hair salons, Internet cafes, grocery stores, and shops selling a broad range of merchandise from clothing to furniture to electronics. People already work at these places. People already patronize these places. Together, these citizens make a considerable contribution to the economy of the city they live in.

And if they're paying their fair share of city taxes, why shoudn't they be able to partake in the benefits of public transportation that folks with more "traditional" employment take for granted?

Saying no to providing 24-hour public transportation because the process is too "hard" or "complicated" isn't good governance. It's simply self-centered laziness.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Keep it the way it is, and keep the rural atmosphere. 24 hour operations bring all kinds of problems.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree that the major cities are already 24 hour cities, but not in the same sense as N. America and Europe are. I heard before that it's the hotels and taxi companies paying kickbacks to the train companies to not run 24/7 so that many people are either forced to take a taxi or stay in a hotel. Can anybody shed any light on that? I'm not sure if a story like that has been run before on JT.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I remember walking through Shinagawa station at 11:00PM and seeing it packed with salarymen going home from work.

You mean from work via izakaya.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We never heard NY is a 24 hour city in USA. Yes, there is a one 24 hour city in entire United States. Las Vegas where there is neither trains nor mid-night bus service existed in its history .

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

So, Tokyo does not want big revenue from foreign tourists?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Maybe Tokyo needs to lift ban on Las Vegas style Casinos near the city to attract dometic and international visitors. If done properly with regulations,Tokyo can create a legal system for Casino that has possiblity to become one of the major tourism resources of revenue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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