Welcome! This is the website of the Yochomachi
Citizens’ Living Environment Study Group (Ju-Kankyo wo Kangaeru Kai). We are a
group of concerned citizens living in the Yochomachi area of Shinjuku City
(Shinjuku-ku) who are protesting against the planned construction of a
gargantuan 112-room studio apartment building in our quiet family-oriented
neighborhood. We have approached the developer Tokyu Land Corp. (Tokyu Fudosan)
regarding the issues that concern us, however we have yet to receive any
answers that would alleviate our anxiety. In fact, their responses thus far
have been a whole lot of nothing.
Overwhelming size: The planned building takes
advantage of a loophole in the Japanese building code that allows the basement
area to be left out of size calculations. This trick enables them to construct
a building with a volume (floor-area ratio) of 240% whereas normally the
maximum allowed in this neighborhood is 160%. But is this basement really a
basement? This plot of land is inclined from front to back, so while the back
side of the building would be “under ground level”, the front side of the
building is on the same level as the street it faces. Both entrances to this
building would be on the “basement floor”.The result is a gigantic 5-story building that dwarfs all of its
neighbors, using every centimeter of allowable space, thereby putting it within
50cm to 100cm of some of its neighbors.
Social issues; Out of the 112 apartment units, 83
units are “studio apartments” (under 29 m2) according to law, 18
units are slightly larger studio apartments, and 11 units are “family type
apartments” ” (39 m2 and above) according to law. This implies that
hundreds of single tenants will be moving here, into a family-oriented
neighborhood, and we are concerned that this demographic change could lead to a
rise in the crime rate. Keep in mind that Yochomachi is every close to
Kabukicho, so one can easily imagine that a great number of new tenants would
be Kabukicho’s night workers. Loud partying and unruly behavior are bound the
become problems, but by that time Tokyu will have sold the building so it will
be impossible to hold them accountable. Yes, they
have stated for the record that they will sell the
building after completion, meaning this whole project
is nothing more than a money-grab for them.
Compliance and responsibility: Tokyu’s CSR
(Corporate Social Responsibility) is comprised of “abiding by the law”. Nothing
more. When asked questions like “why do you only have 1 parking space?” “Why is
the garbage storage room so small?” or “Why are there only 11 family-type
rooms?”, they have all been answered by “because that is the minimum required by law”.
Tokyu’s assertion is that the building is perfectly legal, and therefore they
have every right to build it. We, however, are concerned that this building,
and the policies that led to its design, have inherent flaws that will lead to
friction between new tenants and neighborhood residents in the future. For
example: Only 1 parking space = illegal parking on the street.
Safety concerns: We are worried about the safety of
our children. With inadequate safety measures, such a gigantic building could
easily become a nest for crime. What about trouble between tenants? Can order
be maintained? Another concern is the ridiculous construction plan they have
outlined, including sending 30 trucks (7-ton) through these narrow streets each
day. Tokyu has stated that they will be working on site from 8AM to 8PM, with
an hour before and after for set-up and clean-up. They also will be working
full day on Saturdays, disrupting our precious weekends. We think this type of
behavior is inexcusable for a major corporation such as Tokyu.
The list goes on and on. That is why we are
sacrificing our time and effort to STOP Tokyu from constructing this apartment
building based on their current plans. We strongly urge them to re-think their
due consideration to the preexisting neighborhood community.
The residents of Yochomachi