Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike's betrayal of promises made to the voters apparently extends beyond moving the central fish market from Tsukiji to Toyosu. It also involves the revival of plans to create new roads that will require the demolition of old neighborhoods and adjacent shopping streets.
Originally, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (Nov 15), the city had launched a plan to demolish neighborhoods of wood-frame houses packed together in high density, which were regarded as fire hazards in the event of a major earthquake. Plans for the decade-long project, which involved widening roads to serve as firebreaks, were drawn up in 2012.
The project was named "The 10-year project for fire prevention in high-density areas."
According to the Tokyo metropolitan government, from the Yamanote loop rail line to Ring Road Number 7 (Kan-nana Dori), much of an area measuring approximately 6,900 hectares of land -- equivalent to 11% of the 23 wards -- and with a population of 1.79 million, or 20% of the 23 wards' population, consists of wood-frame houses packed in high density.
The plan for redevelopment to make the areas more fire resistant would involve reconstruction of 28 districts and total road length of 25 kilometers, at an estimated cost of 350 billion yen.
Currently construction has begun on only about 30%, and the target of even partial completion by the time of the Olympics, less than two years away, is looking less and less likely.
"There are also hospitals located adjacent to shopping streets and these are like lifelines for the residents," complains Masaru Ito, member of an opposition group based in the city's Kita Ward that calls itself "The group to protect Jujo, the people's town."
"If the road that's planned is built, it will cut through the shopping street," Ito adds. "And wider streets will be harder on the elderly residents who have to cross them. They'll go outside less often and become more alienated. The planned road will run through the property of 200 to 250 households; it was initially part of a plan drawn up in 1946. But since that time people have spent the last 70 years settling down here and building up their town, and it's crazy to talk about tearing it down all of a sudden."
Ito warns that if the plan goes through, the face of his neighborhood will be irrevocably changed.
"And once the 30-meter wide road is built, none of the merchants will be able to afford to comply with the new building regulations, which require building heights of three stories and higher. There will be more traffic accidents and noise and pollution -- nothing to recommend it at all," he tells Shukan Jitsuwa.
Readers might want to see the old Jujo shopping street -- accessed from the west exit of Jujo Station on the Saikyo Line -- before it's gone, as it's ranked as one of Tokyo's top three traditional shotengai along with Togoshi Ginza in Shinagawa Ward and Sunamachi Ginza, near Nishi-Oshima Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line. Jujo was even used as the locale for filming the TV drama series "Lonely Gourmet."
In the name of fire prevention and modernization, some 2,100 people are already said to have been displaced by construction at the station along the Saikyo Line, despite data from simulations of wind direction conducted by the Meteorological Agency that indicate construction of wider roads in the district, to supposedly prevent the spread of fire in the wake of a major earthquake, would not make any difference.
Something's definitely fishy about how the Tokyo metropolitan government is reviving this "zombie" project, the magazine concludes.© Japan Today