Table Speech

The Future of Tokyo

March 6, 2019

Mr. Shigeru Itoh
Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University

 During the past few years, I have been discussing “the Future of 23 Wards of Tokyo” with young experts and we finalized our proposal last autumn. It is targeted at the year 2040 plus when the population of the 23 Wards will maximize. We formulated 11 urban planning proposals, of which 8 are highly professional while 3 are easily understood by ordinary citizens. Let me introduce these three today.

1.Conservation of Historical and Cultural Townscape
After the end of WWII, the Occupational Authorities focused on the south side of Tokyo and formulated different development policies. The mainstay of Occupational Authorities was set up within the 1st Infantry Division in Roppongi, and for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, stadiums and accommodation facilities were constructed in Yoyogi of Shibuya Ward, Fukazawa or Komazawa of Setagaya Ward. National Route 246 or Urban Expressways were all constructed at southern side of Tokyo.

 On the other hand, the northern side of Tokyo has been clearly separated from American civilization. Since prewar times, men of letters lived around Koishikawa of Bunkyo Ward. Renowned novelists such as Souseki, Ougai and Ichiyo lived around Tokyo University, Uguisudani, or Nippori. Artists like Taikan and Tenshin lived from Ueno to Yanaka, and the Japanese Art Movement was led by Tenshin in Ueno, where music and art school, currently Tokyo University of the Arts, was founded. Northern Tokyo was a town of arts, labor dispute and welfare.

 In the 74 years since the end of WWII, many changes were made in southern side on the occasion of Tokyo Olympics etc., but the northern side remained almost intact. As a result, cultural assets of the middle classes and townspeople remain there in the culture of Taisho and Showa eras. Ya-Ne-Sen (Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi) which survived the ravages of the war are still maintaining the old culture of Tokyo. These are more precious than culture of Ginza or Roppongi for Tokyo to develop as an International City.

2.Creation of High-Quality Residential Areas
 My second proposal is globalization of urban residential areas. Many Tokyo branch managers of American or European companies are disappointed to find out that they have to live in a tiny place. If high-quality residential areas are developed, the value of Tokyo will be enhanced in international comparisons. I suggest to build medium-high, 6 or 7-storied condominiums with a floor-area ratio of about 300 % within the Yamanote loop-line. The size per unit will be 30 to 50 tsubo (1 tsubo is 3.3 square meters), costing 8 million yen per tsubo, so one unit will be about 200 to 500 million yen. National and Metropolitan governments should formulate some kind of “Urban Renewal Special District Measures” to accelerate this plan.

 Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris, Grosvenor Square in London or Beacon Hill in Boston are examples of the ideal town of high-rise condominiums. In Tokyo there are two areas highly evaluated by oversea experts: Shoto in Shibuya Ward and Nishikata in Bunkyo Ward. By the consensus of citizens, there are no high-rise buildings there and streets of wooden houses preserve the appearance of Showa era in Nishikata.

3.Future of Water Front
 My 3rd proposal is to create the reclaimed land within Tokyo Port and make it the recreational ground for citizens of Tokyo. The water area between Tokyo Big Site and Shin-Kiba together with No.12 Lumberyard will be reclaimed and create 100 ha of land (1 km by 1km) taking 20 years. On this land a new zoo of 30 ha and a botanical garden as well as a recreational beach for citizens will be built.

 At the site of present Ueno Zoo, a museum of aeronautics and space technology equivalent to Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC will be newly opened and give children a dream of progress of Science and Technology. We will also build a botanical garden of 30 ha together with a parking lot of 20 ha to accommodate 3,000 cars.

 There remains 20 ha, so we will make an artificial beach of 200 meters by 1 km as well as an open-air concert hall and a conference hall facing the port.

 If a family of 4 goes to Disney Land for a day, it will easily cost 100,000 yen, which is not easy for a salaryman. When this family spend a day in this recreational ground, 20,000 yen will be sufficient including an entrance fee for the zoo, botanical garden, beach as well as lunch. Maybe a family of young salaryman living in Tokyo will be able to visit this recreational facility every 2 months or so and enjoy a day without worrying about the cost.

 These are our proposals to develop Tokyo as an international city for the future.