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100-year-old gingko trees may get ax for Tokyo redevelopment project

83 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

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Koike has no understanding of what the ordinary Japanese public need or want.

Being from an area of Japan (Ashiya) where the only greenery is in walled private residences and people use vehicles to move around then the result is more wanton destruction of nature

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Indeed. Not about the trees at all. Any excuse for a "look at me!".

Social Media. Curse of the modern world.

So, true!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Green is INAKA! Cover it up with asphalt and concrete. So what if it's hot! People can use air conditioners can't they? (sarcasm)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Trees are life and reflect those things in life that are meaningful. One hundred years is not something that can be bought and sold. It is something reverent...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I don't think anything will get the Japanese out on large numbers against the state.

Trying to imply Japanese are scared of the state? Hardly. It's because most, like me, don't care.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Indeed. Not about the trees at all. Any excuse for a "look at me!".

Social Media. Curse of the modern world.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Surely if so many people want to save a few old trees they could club together and buy the land and hold tree hugging parties under the branches. Or apply common sense, redevelop the land and plant extra trees around the area. Cut one down...plant two to replace. But its not really about the trees is it?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

In a city of over 20 million people. It looks like the vast majority of people either don't care about it or support the project.

I don't think that that applies to this case specifically alone, but to the apathy of the Japanese public in general, that has been bred in over decades, perhaps centuries. It makes people easier to govern.

I don't think anything will get the Japanese out on large numbers against the state.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Chopping trees down is not a good idea, not only do they provide an aminatee value but also biodiversity, it's good for our own well being seing beautiful trees, they provide a sun screen, but one thing that most people don't see is the rich micro life that they support, like bugs which birds eat, nests for birds, if they are going to develop they must protect the trees, also there roots, driving large trucks over the soil and compacting to soil will learn to the demise of the trees. And why do they need to develop this site? Is it just a money making excersize?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sadly, economy trumps all in Japan ... If there's money to be made, they don't give a hoot. Short-sighted ideas that will make Tokyo hotter than it already is.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Young trees are much better than old trees for the environment.

Absolute shameless nonsense and you know it. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

Those trees aren't even 'old' yet, they can live to over a 1000 years and are one of the most ancient tree species on the planet. You can't even conceive of the value of such places to the wellbeing of the city.

It's about time the people of Tokyo started demanding more than the paltry 7% green areas that they currently have. The city is a stinking concrete hot mess.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The pair of 200-meter skyscrapers of concrete and glass in Jingu Gaien will only contribute more heat and hot temperatures in the area!!!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I believe Koike is obsessed with creating her legacy, particularly in the visible forms. As a consequence, she has been extremely heavy-handed. I thought her ego was satisfied by suppressing the objections and holding the Olympic last year, at the time of pandemic, in isolation from ordinary citizens. Pushing for the project in Gingu shows her greed for legacy is unlimited. Considering that the governorate election will be held less than a year, many Tokyoites are desperate not to hear strong objections from those who are interested in replacing Koike.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

And body art over a bikini? Lame...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Young trees are much better than old trees for the environment. Those old trees will be replaced. A few old trees should not dictate the future economy of Tokyo.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Japanese love concrete let them destroy nature and grass and trees. It’s sad enough that they have to build artificial land because this island is tiny to accommodate the overwhelming population

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The activist makes me think of Yoko Ono.

My point exactly! We all know how that turned out for the Beatles as a group and John Lennon's children and reputation. Her actions are more about self-interest and the attention that comes with her visual performance.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

LOL! I am currently watching news that shows firefighters raising awareness about the 100 year event (fire safety) coming up next week. The firefighter's T-shirts read "Minato City, Tokyo." I have never seen Tokyo City, Tokyo anywhere!

Fire safety and Global Warming due to urbanization go hand in hand when it comes to urban planning!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

More Ark Hillls, more cutting down green avenues, more cutting down trees for commercial enterprises.

"Japan's love of nature and it's four seasons." Unless they want to build a MItsui Fudo Goobla Kan Hills or something.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The 2020 Tokyo "Green" Olympics. Don't make me laugh.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Aside from the trees, I really think they should leave the area the way it is.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

To the uninformed, it is like saying Hawaii is the best city in the world.

What? You mean it's not? I mean I know plenty of Japanese who have never been to America, but they have been to Hawaii!

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Cancel the Osaka expo.

What a statement. Like Osaka is supposed to fund projects in Tokyo? Hell, please do everyone a favor and have Tokyo fund Okinawa's base relocation projects!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Tokyo Mayor Koike, Meiji Shrine, let’s protect our parks.

Yeah, if Tokyo was a city, but it is not! She is the mayor of which city? All the other mayors in Tokyo prefecture would like to know.

It tells us her title right in the article:

*A plan approved earlier this year by Gov. Yuriko Koike would let developers, led by Mitsui Fudosan, build a pair of 200-meter skyscrapers in Jingu Gaien, mow down trees in one of Tokyo's few green areas, and raze and rebuild a historic rugby venue and an adjoining baseball stadium.*

Space agencies track environmental hazards around the world due to factors like urbanization! The informed know the truth!

Tokyo is often referred to as a city, but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo. 

The European Space Agency

https://earth.esa.int/web/earth-watching/image-of-the-week/content/-/article/tokyo-japan/#:~:text=Tokyo%20is%20often%20referred%20to,a%20characteristic%20unique%20to%20Tokyo.

Shinjuku is also the location of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The governor's office, the metropolitan assembly chamber, and all administrative head offices are located in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Technically, Shinjuku is therefore the prefectural capital of Tokyo; but according to a statement by the governor's office, Tokyo (the – as administrative unit: former – Tokyo City, the area of today's 23 special wards collectively) can usually be considered the capital of Tokyo (prefecture/"Metropolis") for geographical purposes. The Geographical Survey Institute (Kokudo Chiriin) names Tōkyō (the city) as capital of Tōkyō-to (the prefecture/"Metropolitan

The supporters in the the old men who in the Diet, who ride in the Black vans, and who like to cosplay at Yasukuni did not want to recognize Shinjuku city as the capital because it has a bad reputation with Kabukicho, and they would have to admit that Tokyo city was destroyed during the war, and the foreigners told them what to do after the rebuilding.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinjuku#:~:text=Technically%2C%20Shinjuku%20is%20therefore%20the,prefecture%2F%22Metropolis%22)%20for

There is no Tokyo city! Not one individual city in Tokyo prefecture has enough amenities to hold a candle to the popular international cities around the world. It needs to use the whole state of Tokyo to even compare. Everything that people like about Tokyo are located in different cities within the prefecture.

To the uninformed, it is like saying Hawaii is the best city in the world.

See how ridiculous some people sound?

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

It's easy to get and should be read by everyone.

That sounds interesting. I gave you a +, because positivity is refreshing. It probably should be read by everyone. Will it? And by any people with any connection to people in power here? ...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

One of my favourite books on the topic is called "Just Enough".

Its synopsis reads;

If we want to live sustainably, how should we feel about nature? About waste? About our forests and rivers? About food? Just Enough is a book of stories and sketches that give valuable insight into what it is like to live in a sustainable society by describing life in Japan some two hundred years ago, during the late Edo period, when cities and villages faced many of the same environmental challenges we do today and met them beautifully and inventively.

It's easy to get and should be read by everyone.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Tokyo was one of the first world capitals to suffer from the heat island effect. Removing what little greenery we have in order to add a thousand more air conditioners will make the outdoor humidity and temperatures unbearable. Tokyo Mayor Koike, Meiji Shrine, let’s protect our parks.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Why can't the ginko trees be replanted elsewhere?

Answer: They are about 100 years old. Their roots go all over the place, underground. Think about it! These are not little pot plants on your kitchen window sill.

 I've been really upset about it over the years, watching all the destruction of greenery here, but most people just don't seem to care. Well, it's their country, their rubbish future.

Yeah, I've been, and continue to be, upset. You don't seem to understand that their rubbish future is our rubbish future! It's one planet. (duh!) We all share it. Stupidity anywhere on the planet affects us all. It's our rubbish future. The fact that you have to have this pointed out to you makes me doubt that we will get out of the disaster we're all sleepwalking into.

I teach at universities here. It's depressing how often one hears this line come out of students' mouths: "Japanese are great nature lovers." Why depressing? It shows that the brainwashing of the education system is effective. These kids actually believe this nonsense, when in fact Japan is a concrete-loving, anti-nature state.

I don't think they're evil. They just don't understand what they're doing. They're CLUELESS on this topic, in other words. Some individuals escape the net and know what's going on, of course, but they are a tiny minority.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I think as others have posted my immediate neighborhood has had about 50% of its Sakura chopped down and removed over the past several years without any public consultation or awareness. Some of the trees provided shade at our local train station and the others were in a now converted elementary school.

It makes me and the locals sad as we loved those trees and I have some nice photos of family with them.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good to see there are young people getting involved in peaceful demonstrations to save what is valuable in a city that elevates glass, concrete and over-development over human needs.

It's not only Tokyo - this kind of 'development' continues in big cities around the world and it's damn scary to see how authorities and those with the power to engage in unnecessary construction think that the people in those cities don't even have the right to sunlight or views. Or shade in increasingly hot summers.

Those with too much power and no real accountability have done it from New York to London to Sydney to Seoul. Ugly concrete 'public spaces' that the public didn't want changed from greenery and old trees, 'office' buildings that sit empty cause those who built them exploit local tax rules and write off their losses denying reveniue, new housing that is unaffordable for most of the population.

I remember a place in Korea when I visited some years back, either Dongdaemun or Namdaemun which used to have thriving ordinary people's markets and shade. It was 'upgraded' to an ugly concrete area that makes summers there even worse than the usual high heat and humidity. Those who protest all of these contemporary social/environmental dysfunctions are heroes and although numbers can be small at first, they know that somebody has to start somewhere.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

No matter how much people want to sweep it under the rug, yes, the Covid hysteria still runs rampant here.

I got back from two weeks in Europe. I noticed over there has the same covid relics as over here. A tatty covid sign here, disuse had sanitisers there etc. more masks in Japan but for us old timers know it's part of society.

Nothing special about Japan, covid wise.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The activist makes me think of Yoko Ono

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Give me a brown envelope is shouting the concrete to be poured, while the trees are fighting for their lifes.

Gvere are so much space available, and no you can't replace 100 old trees, just impossible. Chopping them is destroying the history of the area. As if they needed new projects while demography is showing the opposite and density is highest in Japan.

https://www.macrotrends.net/cities/21671/tokyo/population#:~:text=The%20current%20metro%20area%20population,a%200.14%25%20decline%20from%202020.

And yes Japanese love concrete for its cleanliness. Sigh.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Get out of the way The city of Tokyo is building a facility for the sporting public and those trees are holding up construction which will be finished in time allowed. Remember it called a city to house city folk. It not a forest to house trees

-15 ( +1 / -16 )

Next, she'll show up in Fukushima, dressed as a mermaid...

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

That's ONE way to get attention.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Good for her. Maybe it's time to plant some trees, and give the people who work in that area some government cash instead of concrete companies.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

The lack of trees contributes to higher inner city temperatures, world wide. Is there no way to keep the trees, and do an appropriate development?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

The Japanese seem to pride themselves on their appreciation of nature, the four seasons and all that, but it strikes me that they are among the worst environmental vandals anywhere! Everywhere you go in Japan, they just dump concrete all over the place - along coastlines, rivers, hillsides. The complete eyesore buildings that went up all over the Japanese countryside during the bubble era, never renovated since, just slowly decaying away - towns in the what should be some of the most beautiful places in the country, just complete horrible dumps! I haven't seen the plans for this development, but a pair of 200 m skyscrapers in that area sounds like more of the same. Of course, the protesters efforts will come to nothing - the money will win, as it always does, and to hell with the environment and the concerns of the little people. When it comes to urban planning, I wish Japan would take more influence from European nations such as the Netherlands and Belgium, rather than North America from where they've copied everything since WWII.

-8 ( +14 / -22 )

Toyama, Matsuyama, Aomori, or pretty much any beautiful, spacious and rich japanese capital completely isolated from the 3 big hubs.

Could not agree more.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

My neighborhood in Kanagawa had this beautiful tree by the river. It was the most attractive tree in the area, followed by a path of biggish Kinmokusei alongside the river.

Well the city chopped it down to the bottom of the trunk. Then made these burnt marks on top so it didn't grow again. They cut the Kinmokusei almost to the bottom too. So sad.

They did the same in my neighborhood as well. The area looked so nice with all the plum trees, sakura trees, persimmon trees, and bamboo trees, now the area looks so depressing and indistinguishable from any other area. Makes me sort of regret coming all the way out here to buy a house.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I'm sure the project developers can come up with a plan to build around the trees.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My neighborhood in Kanagawa had this beautiful tree by the river. It was the most attractive tree in the area, followed by a path of biggish Kinmokusei alongside the river.

Well the city chopped it down to the bottom of the trunk. Then made these burnt marks on top so it didn't grow again. They cut the Kinmokusei almost to the bottom too. So sad.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

It was a city before it became a prefecture so it's still known as a city no matter how much you want to pretend it isn't.

LOL! Tokyo city before 1932 was from Yotsuya to Honjo/Fukukawa. Thanks for showing us what you do not know about Tokyo the prefecture and its politics! That is why politicians exploit the public to destroy natural areas like Gingko dori!

You are still wrong it is still Tokyo prefecture no matter how much you want to pretend it isn't! I look forward to hanging out in Shibuya city tonight!

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

Times like this where I wish I could live in places like Toyama and have a Tokyo paying job.

Toyama, Matsuyama, Aomori, or pretty much any beautiful, spacious and rich japanese capital completely isolated from the 3 big hubs.

In Toyama you're free to do what you want, commute how you want, enjoy your weekend the way you want. Apparently anything close to that kind of lifestyle need to be chopped down if you chose to live in Tokyo. You're only allowed to eat, shop and ride trains. That's life.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Pathetic ...its about money not environment .Japan is losing its charm and world respect for their recent defience of peoples wishes ..fukushima water release is gross and abhorent ...what do you tell your kids when they eat fish ..we deliberately released poison into mother Ocean ..and now cutting down sacred trees..Whats next a facebook amuzment park in Ise Jingu ....wake up people !

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

So?

This is an Associated Press article, not just a Japan Today piece, so the fact that there are fake accounts here is pretty insignificant.

Google it, this protest is being reported in major media outlets internationally and also in Japan.

That is way better than if today’s news was completely silent about it, which it would be if it wasn’t for this protest. Good for her I say.

So?

The story got attention because a few hundred people came out to protest the destruction of famous 100-year old trees along a popular street in Tokyo not because of this woman's personal visual performance! The original article showed these other protesters not only the woman like JT!

From my own experience of actually protesting in my youth, people who are protesting a serious issue are not going to be smiling and giggling with their friends in the photos at a protest.

This is about her own self-interest and not about the cause!

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

Those are some beautiful grand trees, the developers can come up with a better plan

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This article only shows a road and woman in body paint.

Also, this is simply not true. The article contains a fairly detailed discussion of the issue and what is at stake. The body paint is just mentioned in the introductory blurb as a way of introducing the subject, the substance of the article is not about a person putting on body paint.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

This article only shows a road and woman in body paint. This topic and debate started earlier this year, and his been discussed on various media.

Yeah, and this action is helping to keep it in the news rather than just getting forgotten about or pushed to the wayside like Koike and the developers would like. As someone who cares about this issue I’m thankful for that.

Her body paint has less impact on the issue than you may think. By the way, some of these debaters like wolfshine and proxy are (blacklabel's other screen names), so they do not really count!

So?

This is an Associated Press article, not just a Japan Today piece, so the fact that there are fake accounts here is pretty insignificant.

Google it, this protest is being reported in major media outlets internationally and also in Japan.

That is way better than if today’s news was completely silent about it, which it would be if it wasn’t for this protest. Good for her I say.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

Times like this where I wish I could live in places like Toyama and have a Tokyo paying job.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

gokai_wo_manekuToday  10:16 am JST

Why can't the ginko trees be replanted elsewhere?

Because public servants want to use this relocation money for unjustified Bonus.

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

And don't forget that trees take the carbon dioxide that we breath out and produce the oxygen that we breath in.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Why can't the ginko trees be replanted elsewhere?

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Tokyo is not a city! It is a prefecture (state) like all the others in Japan. Shinjuku is technically the capital! The only reason that it calls itself a quasi-Metropolis (status) because none of the individual kuyakushos are spectacular enough to match the real major cities around the like Paris, New York, Beijing....etc.

It is also the reason that Yuriko Koike is Governor (state) of Tokyo and not Mayor (city) of Tokyo!

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

That protest seems to be more about this woman wanting to get attention for herself (exhibitionist) and less about helping the cause. There are more effective ways to be proactive.

The fact that we are reading an article about the issue, and having a debate mainly about that issue, would suggest otherwise.

9 ( +17 / -8 )

I also want them to leave the street alone. I have enjoyed going there throughout the year. It is also where the Ferrari drivers got to show off their cars on the weekends!

I say reduce the number of stadiums and design them for multiple uses.

Koike is trying to please the cabal who supported her failed Olympics! She is trying to make sure they support her re-election campaign.

3 ( +20 / -17 )

That protest seems to be more about this woman wanting to get attention for herself (exhibitionist) and less about helping the cause. There are more effective ways to be proactive.

In a city of over 20 million people. It looks like the vast majority of people either dont care about it or support the project.

Tokyo is not a city! It is a prefecture (state) like all the others in Japan. Shinjuku is technically the capital! The only reason that it calls itself a quasi-Metropolis (status) because none of the individual kuyakushos are spectacular enough to match the real major cities around the like Paris, New York, Beijing....etc.

There used to be a Tokyo-ku (city) in East Tokyo, but it was destroyed during the war and never rebuilt. Therefore, they could not draw in major international conferences, events, or the Olympics!

-23 ( +10 / -33 )

Here is clear proof that Ms Koike doesn't actually give a hoot about real environmental issues and is in the pocket of Big Corporate Interests. Jokes on you for supporting her!

8 ( +22 / -14 )

Not much point in having trees in Japanese towns and cities anyways; they always cut 90% of the leaves and branches off in the name of "pruning".

-12 ( +14 / -26 )

A plan approved earlier this year by Gov. Yuriko Koike would let developers, led by Mitsui Fudosan, build a pair of 200-meter skyscrapers in Jingu Gaien

I usually dont side with these delusional eco fanatics totally disconnected from reality but this is one of the very few areas in central Tokyo you can actually breathe good fresh air, I'm ok from my outskirts across Arakawa river but what are these people living there going to breathe after these trees are chopped down? More hot asphalt?

Besides it seems the whole world ran out of new ideas some 20 years ago, almost every single skyscraper look exactly the same and Tokyo is no exception. I miss being able to actually see Tokyo Tower.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

In a city of over 20 million people. It looks like the vast majority of people either dont care about it or support the project.

Or that they deliberately weren’t informed or consulted about it in an effort to keep them in the dark about what was going on.

0 ( +14 / -14 )

In Japan concrete is synonymous with beauty/cleanliness

-2 ( +19 / -21 )

Tokyo the mega city that already is known as the city of little greenery. Look forward to 100% City of Concrete in the near future.

And summer continues to become more bearable year after year. And they say it's caused by global warming. Was going to add a "LOL" mark but I'm too depressed.

-9 ( +15 / -24 )

Who needs trees? All they do is produce oxygen, shade and a home for wildlife. Give me concrete any day, the overpopulated, hot and polluted city of Tokyo wouldn't be the same without it.

0 ( +32 / -32 )

I'm usually against NIMBY philosophy, but this plan is terrible.

They're going to bulldoze a historic stadium and a bunch of nice trees to build giant ugly glass boxes virtually no tenants will be able to afford. Seriously, Aoyama/Jingu Gaien is not even a business district, and an already pretty expensive residential one. What is the point here?

Yuriko Koike has been a disaster. She was a disaster on Covid, a disaster on the Olympics, and now a disaster on this. Voters of Tokyo and the rest of the country are truly fools if they allow her to advance her career to the national level.

-2 ( +25 / -27 )

GREEEEED is DEADLY, and in this case the victim is a hundred years old tree. This massacre must STOP.

21 ( +24 / -3 )

led by Mitsui Fudosan, build a pair of 200-meter skyscrapers in Jingu Gaien, mow down trees in one of Tokyo's few green areas, and raze and rebuild a historic rugby venue and an adjoining baseball stadium.

Right just what Tokyo needs more sky scrapers. So glad I got out of there...what a joke of a Mayor

5 ( +27 / -22 )

“This is like building skyscrapers in the middle of Central Park in New York,” Mikiko Ishikawa, an emeritus professor at the University of Tokyo, told The Associated Press.

That area is no where near what Central Park is. Shinjuku Gyoen is not even remotely close to Central Park.

About 1,500 trees were chopped down in the same area to build the $1.4 billion

And how many were replanted? The plan will plant more trees in existence now and the famous row will be kept in place.

-21 ( +5 / -26 )

And where are you going to get the money to pay for the trees? Money doesn't grow on trees.

Cancel the Osaka expo.

12 ( +38 / -26 )

We need all the green we can get.

And where are you going to get the money to pay for the trees? Money doesn't grow on trees.

-44 ( +3 / -47 )

Takayuki Nakamura, among a few hundred who gathered on Sunday to protest

In a city of over 20 million people. It looks like the vast majority of people either dont care about it or support the project.

-19 ( +12 / -31 )

Go for it.

We need all the green we can get.

32 ( +45 / -13 )

Right now, there are two plans. I support Plan 2.

(1) Keep five adjacent stadiums/grounds in the Yoyogi area (two Jingu stadiums, a rugby stadium, a rubber-ball baseball ground, new National Stadium)

(2) Transition to three stadiums instead of five. This will increase open space from 21% to 44%, greenery percentage from 25% to 30%. Additionally, the vista of the ginkgo-lined street will be preserved for the formation of a shady green pedestrian space. Any buildings along the ginkgo-lined street will not exceed the height of the trees from any vantage point in order to preserve the scenic corridor of the stately ginkgo trees.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

Activism in Japan, no there will be no effect.

-12 ( +25 / -37 )

Does she think she is a tree?

-52 ( +8 / -60 )

I don’t know Tokyo too well so hard to comment. Not keen on hippies though that always think it’s clever to dress provocatively just like the trans and MAPS extremists, I find it demeans their cause you see.

-52 ( +12 / -64 )

Flying over Tokyo a number of times, it is extremely disheartening to look down and

see the lack of greenery.

Tokyo has more than enough concrete as it is without adding more

19 ( +57 / -38 )

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