22 urban redevelopment projects have been launched in central Tokyo wards designated as national strategic special zones to make Japan's capital more attractive for global businesses.
Cumbersome procedures usually required for large redevelopment projects have been expedited by taking advantage of special provisions in the City Planning Law, in the hope of making Tokyo a global tourism and business hub within five years before the start of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Currently, nine wards in Tokyo - Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Koto, Shinagawa, Ota and Shibuya - are designated national strategic special zones.
The projects include development of international convention centres, and tourism and business facilities in those areas. Such large-scale redevelopment projects usually need legal provisions based on the City Planning Law. But that requires complicated, cumbersome and time-consuming procedures in a number of sections of administrative bodies.
For these urban development projects, however, private companies and officials of the Tokyo metropolitan government and ward offices held a joint conference to discuss the projects and expedite the necessary procedures.
Six projects are concentrated in the Toranomon district of Minato Ward. Before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, several high-rise buildings will have been constructed and Toranomon-Shin Station (tentative name) will have been opened on Hibiya subway line. There are also plans to develop an international business centre, along with housing and medical facilities for foreigners in the area.
"Legislative, administrative and private sectors are working together and carrying out the projects with speed," said an employee of Mori Building Co. in charge of the development project.
The Nihonbashi and Kabutocho areas in Chuo Ward are considered the centerpiece of Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe's plan to make Tokyo an international financial centre. A facility is planned in the area where asset management companies can support entrepreneurship, and where investors and companies can conduct mutual exchanges.
In the Hibiya district in Chiyoda Ward, Mitsui Fudosan Co. will construct a 35-story building, which would not only be a cultural and arts centre that would work together with nearby theatres but also could be used as a disaster shelter, as it would have a 5,000-square-meter space that could accommodate people unable to return home due to the suspension of public transportation systems after major disasters.
The site of the former Tokyo metropolitan government building, which is about 17,000 square meters, is the centre of the redevelopment project in an area around JR Yurakucho Station in Chiyoda Ward. The metropolitan government and the private sector plan the large-scale international convention centre that will operate simultaneously with the Tokyo International Forum to attract international conferences.
A metropolitan government official said: "We'll finalize prospects for all the projects before the Tokyo Olympics. Our aim is to revitalise Tokyo as a global city capable of competing with cities in other countries by attracting more international companies."