Yasuyoshi Okada, President, Japan National Commission for the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
Mikiko Ishikawa, Director, Japan National Commission for the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
Hajime Funada, Member of the House of Representatives, Liberal Democratic Party
11:00-12:00 Thursday, September 21, 2023
Language:The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation.
Request to Halt Jingu Gaien Area Redevelopment Project
The Jingu Gaien area – a leafy oasis in central Tokyo with century-old heritage trees – is set to be bulldozed for a billion-dollar redevelopment project that includes a pair of skyscrapers and the reconstruction of the Meiji Jingu Stadium. The plan, greenlit by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, has however been met with a firestorm of opposition from concerned residents, architects, and academics as well as celebrity names like the late maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto and novelist Haruki Murakami.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the advisory committee on Unesco World Heritage, is the latest to weigh in. On Sept 7, the Paris headquarters issued a Heritage Alert warning of an "imminent threat to the urban forest" of Jingu Gaien with 3.4 hectares of parkland and about 3,000 heritage trees to be lost to redevelopment. Shinjuku Ward has given permission for the axing of trees, scheduled to begin this month.
While Heritage Alerts are not legally binding, these are issued when cultural properties are in danger with the aim to promote ideas to preserve them for future generations. Jingu Gaien is at the heart of a 'Garden City Park System' that has its roots from the 17th century Edo period.
ICOMOS argues that the project – led by real estate firm Mitsui Fudosan, Meiji Jingu Shrine, Japan Sports Council, and Itochu Corp – will destroy an area where development has traditionally been controlled to protect historical assets, given the "errors and unscientific methodology in the environment impact statement". While the famous gingko tree avenue that turns into a spectacular yellow every autumn will be spared the ax, ICOMOS says that the plan to dig 40 meters underground – and just six meters from the tree roots – will threaten their very survival. ICOMOS will discuss the project and present their greener, alternative plan to the FCCJ.
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