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Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park

An Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park on January 27th


January 28th, 2016

Kazumi Ohigashi, Senior Director of the Japan Sport Council

An Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park on January 27th

At approximately 7:20AM on January 27th, 2016, Yoshitaka Takasaki, head of the Japan Sports Council (JSC)’s new National Stadium project, along with his staff and with the help of police officers and security guards, forcefully barricaded off the three entrances to Meiji Park adjacent to the National Stadium. In addition, the officers seized and shut down the public bathrooms, running water and electricity in the Kasumigaoka plaza, the central area inside the Park. Currently the three entrances described above are still barricaded with steel fences and under 24/7 surveillance by hired security guards, who continue to block all entrances to the Park. Meiji Park is a home to several homeless people. We have known that JSC has previously promised that they would not be working on constructions if it were to affect the life of the people residing in the park, and that they would communicate any plans of such constructions, resolve any issues through communication, and would not forcefully evict the Park residents. Contrary to these stances, Tokyo Metropolitan Government has discontinued the status of public domain for Meiji Park and transferred the land management rights of the Park to JSC, which ultimately resulted in the officials abruptly showing up and shutting down the minimal lifelines of the park residents. By using the surprise tactic, the JSC crew attempted to install steel barricades, which they hung on a crane and hovered overhead above the park residents and their supporter inside the park who were there protesting the JSC crew. While the park residents and the supporter were able to call off the barricade installation, such attack on the lives of homeless people would have been carried on if we did not intervene the JSC that morning. In addition, it was none other than police officers who violently kicked the protesters out of the park - while the police are by law not supposed to intervene on behalf of private business interests. Up until journalists and congressmen arrived at the scene, the police kept intimidating the residents and supporters who are demanding explanation as to why the construction was happening at all. Takasaki kept ignoring our demands and repeating a single-line warning message that we needed to leave the park.

This forceful eviction we've witnessed last month is a violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which advocates the right to housing for all. It is a violation of human rights in the absence of: 1) strict compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law; 2)an opportunity for genuine consultation with those affected.; and 3) adequate alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land. Most of all, JSC's action tramples on the wish of the residents and their right to live. Ever since the fall of 2013 when Tokyo was elected as the 2020 host city, Tokyo metropolitan government has unjustly threatened the Meiji Park residents and has forcefully relocated them within the park twice, even though up to that point Tokyo even had acknowledged that the homeless people could live in the Park.

As of the spring 2014, Yoshitaka Takasaki of the JSC had explained that the new National Stadium construction “would not affect the Park residents until the physical construction begins." The New Stadium plan has since been completely withdrawn and implemented a new design, which postponed the construction start date to January 2017. As the New Stadium design has been suspected of a plagiarism, we may expect a further postponement. For the above reasons there is no need for JSC to proceed with demolition of the Meiji Park at the moment. In any case, we cannot and will not tolerate them to force their plans ignoring the life of the Park residents.

Thanks to the strong opposition on-site and off-site by the Park residents and the supporter on January 27th, JSC has backed down stating that the construction had been done for the day, however, they have not retreated their plans to restrict the use of Park facilities, cutting of trees and eventually the demolition of the Park in order to "secure" the land to build the New Stadium. We have not found out the names of private contractors that came into the park on January 27th nor have we seen any signatories describing the timeline for demolition. Provided such lack of communication to the community, we regard that the action taken by JSC is nothing but an illegal construction and intimidation against the Park residents. As long as their target is the homeless people, we are determined to stop the construction and any obstructions to the Park in the hands of JSC.

Hence we present the following demands to Japan Sports Council:
1) JSC must resume the public hearing with the residents of Meiji Park and their supporters.
2) JSC must not begin any work in the park unless all parties have come to a resolution through discussions.
3) JSC must immediately terminate the obstruction of lifeline facilities in the Park such as roads, bathrooms and running water.
4) JSC must immediately remove all the structures that were installed on January 27th and have since been obstructing access for bicycles and wheeled carts.

Association of the Residents of the Meiji Park and the National Stadium Surroundings and the Supporters

A short video of what happened at Meiji Park on January 27th

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