FEATURE: Tokyo’s redevelopment cycle generates growth
TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - This is the third and final installment of a three-part series.
This is the third and final installment of a three-part series.
Tokyo saw highly accelerated growth in its urban infrastructure thanks to the Olympic Games in 1964, but the unipolar concentration of the nation’s population in the Tokyo area created strains such as soaring land prices and extreme crowding of transportation.
In the 1980s, the Tokyo metropolitan government turned to a policy of “multi-core urban structure,” in which the function of a central business hub would be distributed among seven “sub-centers,” including Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro.
Waterfront areas began to attract attention since they had vast land that could be developed relatively freely. However, former Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima, elected in 1995, decided to cancel the 1996 World City Expo that the Tokyo metropolitan government had taken the initiative to plan. That decision led to a decline in the type of redevelopment promoted by the metropolitan government offering developers its own land.
At the beginning of the 2000s, the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi eased national regulations, fueling the private sector’s desire to develop. Redevelopment led by major real estate developers began to gain attention.
In Daimaruyu — a portmanteau name for the Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakucho areas — a 30-year project by Mitsubishi Estate Co. is nearing completion.
A Shibuya project led by Tokyu Group and a Roppongi-Toranomon project led by Mori Building Co. are underway. Both involve large-scale development including construction of large complexes.
Redevelopment is happening also around Shinagawa and Shinjuku. Shinagawa is to be the starting point of the Linear Chuo Shinkansen line. A new station on the JR Yamanote Line is being built in Minato Ward. Shinjuku Station continues to be redeveloped.
Even when some of these areas need redevelopment due to the passage of time since previous development work, other areas keep on functioning and Tokyo, as a whole, maintains its attractive power. Growth continues as redevelopment cycles repeat.
Kazuo Hiramoto, a professor emeritus of urban planning at Tokyo City University, pointed out the huge potential of the Tokyo waterfront that will be developed for the 2020 Olympic Games, saying, “The area near Haneda Airport and Toyosu Market may become a new area for attracting international visitors.
“It is essential to develop the transportation infrastructure such as a new subway line.”
The waterfront area is expected to be an engine of growth for Tokyo.
A model that concentrates all venues in an area has often been adopted for past Olympic Games. But for the 2020 Tokyo Games, a separation model has been adopted in which venues will be spread over two areas, a central area and a waterfront area. A similar model is planned for the 2024 Paris Games and the 2028 Los Angeles Games, making Tokyo a test case for future Olympics management.
In a concentration model, redevelopment of a certain area proceeds all at once. For the previous Tokyo Olympics in 1964, facilities such as the National Stadium, the Nippon Budokan hall and the National Yoyogi Stadium were constructed in central Tokyo and have been long used.
For the 2012 London Games, the main stadium, other sports facilities, and the Olympic Village were concentrated in the eastern part of the city, which had been an impoverished district. After the Games, they were developed into housing all at once, and the district was reborn.
Hiromasa Shirai, a professor of urban design at the University of Shiga Prefecture, was involved in the creation of the master plan for the London Games.
“We didn’t regard the Olympics as a transitory event, but imagined what we wanted the city to be after 10 years or 20 years, and created a long-term urban plan,” Shirai said.
On the other hand, a concentration model requires great sums of money for the development of vast land areas. It is difficult to secure land in cities of developed countries that have the wherewithal to be Olympic hosts.
Regarding the 2020 Tokyo Games, Shirai said, “Just as there are competitions among different areas such as Shibuya and Shinjuku, the areas where events will be held should compete with each other after the event on the strength of their designs.
“That will lead to a more attractive Tokyo. The Tokyo Games will be a model case for future Games management.”