Petition for a Review of the Rebuilding of Setagaya City Hall Complex

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The rapid spread of the novel corona virus is undermining people’s lives and impacting the global economy. Japan is no exception and the future remains deeply uncertain for all.

The City of Setagaya (Setagaya Ward) is Tokyo’s largest constituent with nearly 1,000,000 inhabitants. It has long been discussing whether or not to replace and rebuild the functionally inadequate city hall complex. (This is an historic building dating for the most part from 1959 and designed by Kunio Maekawa, a disciple of the great French Modernist Le Corbusier and mentor of Kenzo Tange, the first internationally known Japanese architect.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunio_Maekawa

Despite strident opposition by preservationists, whom the current Mayor Nobuto Hosaka refused to take seriously, a vast and disruptive scheme for destruction and rebuilding was chosen in 2018 by limited competition. Its projected construction period would be roughly six years and the final cost is due to exceed JPY 50 billion (USD 465 million, as of April this year). This is a major undertaking with total floor area 2.2 times greater than the present buildings, overwhelming the quiet residential area in which the complex is situated at the geographical heart of the ward.

During the official period for discussion between ward officials and citizens of Setagaya, many residents voiced their concerns over the final plan: the spacious plaza-like courtyard that people now enjoy will be diminished; views will be obscured by higher buildings; and construction will impede traffic and pedestrians for over half a decade.

At this point, the virus pandemic broke out, despite which the City of Setagaya is still promoting the project with its unchanged former cost figures and construction deadlines. As people are compelled to switch to working from home, do we still require such gigantic city hall buildings? Going forward, we may see many companies collapse; and numerous people will suffer amidst curfews and business closures. Even when the crisis ends, it’s uncertain whether or not our prior lifestyle can be restored. Will we have to adapt to a new world order with a fresh mindset?

Furthermore, the City of Setagaya’s tax revenues will surely decrease while the costs of rebuilding the lives of those hardest hit by the crisis are bound to inflate. Japan’s aging curve and probable depopulation exacerbates the situation, so that this huge project (more than 1 billion yen earmarked annually) will heavily overburden the financial future well into mid-century.

We propose: why not suspend this project and review it entirely? It may be best to reexamine risk mitigation provisions, as well as shorten the construction period by imposing a drastic budget cut. PLEASE DO SIGN THIS PETITION (you need not be a resident of Setagaya Ward or even of Tokyo).