Table Speech

Let’s Bring Blue Sky to Nihonbashi Bridge and Sunlight to Nihonbashi River

January 28, 2015

Mr. Taneo Nakamura
Chairman, The Famed “Nihonbashi” Bridge Preservation Society
Mr. Takashi Hashimoto
Chairman, Nihonbashi Renaissance 100-Year-Plan Committee

 Nihonbashi area has developed at the center of Japanese history, culture and economy since the beginning of the Edo Shogunate. Nihonbashi was the starting point of the five major routes (Gokaido) which connected the capital of Japan, Edo, with the outer provinces. 2011 marked the centennial anniversary of the bridge (20th incarnation) which is designated as a nationally important cultural property. The bridge was built by people of the Meiji era with an ambition to advance into “the world and new times.” It looks solid and beautiful today and makes us Japanese feel proud.

 Unfortunately, the metropolitan expressway constructed in 1963, just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, covers the bridge and obscures the sunlight. It has come to damage the history, culture and natural environment of Nihonbashi, once praised as the “city of water.” The 50-year-old expressway itself has become superannuated with many problems regarding its safety and resilience to disasters.

 Against this backdrop, the Japanese government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited now engage in active discussions and review the future role of the expressways. Time has come to improve the road network towards providing effective support to our socioeconomic activities.
 Measures include large-scale upgrades and repairs to solve chronic traffic congestion that causes immense negative repercussions for the economy as well as the environment.

 We must not limit the metropolitan expressway renewal plan to simply renovating the decaying structure. We should discuss it in a wider context of how to implement innovative measures for people-centered urban development. As we will be hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, it is high time we should disseminate our ideal urban development model to the world and work in collaboration towards its successful implementation.

 Our goal is to create pleasant and active urban areas that inherit the history and culture of the locality and to bring back the blue sky to the Nihonbashi area. We hope our campaign will be instrumental in building urban areas that respect the history, culture, landscape and natural environment. We also hope our initiative will eventually spread throughout Japan.

 We attend different meetings and gatherings to get understanding and support for our campaign to “Bring Blue Sky to Nihonbashi and Sunlight to Nihonbashi.River.” Please join our signature-collecting campaign if you agree with our initiative.