Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Tokyo's National Olympic Stadium is being rebuilt and expanded. That means Kohei Jinno, who lives one block away, will have to move. Again.
Kohei Jinno lost his home and business to the wrecking ball half a century ago, demolished to make way for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Now, he'll be moving again for the exact same reason.
After spending 1964 and '65 in another town cleaning cars, Jinno has run a tobacco shop inside the apartment complex he was relocated to in 1966. Now 79 years-old, he'll be forced to move again, this time, to make way for the brand new, $1.3 billion Olympic Stadium. According to The Japan Times, some 200 households at Kasumigaoka, where a third of the residents are over 70, will be relocated as a result of the stadium.
Residents are being offered housing in three other city-owned apartment complexes. Jinno told the Times that it'll be difficult for himself and fellow elderly residents to adjust to a new home or cultivate new relationships, "I may go where you cannot set up a tobacco shop," he told the paper, "that means I will lose my reason for living."
Japanese officials say the new stadium would have happened with or without the 2020 Olympics. The new facility will be constructed over the site of Kasumigaoka National Stadium, built for the '64 games. But the much flashier replacement will stretch beyond the original footprint, encroaching on the 1963-built Kasumigaoka apartment complex where Jinno resides, one block away.
Japan used the 1964 Games to show the world it was a modern country, fully rebuilt and removed from World War II. Tokyo saw an influx of infrastructure improvements as a result, including not only new sports facilities but roadways and high-speed rail as well. For 2020, the city expects to invest $4 billion in Olympic-related infrastructure. According to the Japan Times, 20 of the 35 facilities will be newly built, many on what is currently landfill in the city's Ginza district. An estimated $5.5 billion in road repairs and expansion are anticipated as well.
While Jinno is understandably upset about his second eviction courtesy of the Olympics, Tokyo's plan for 2020 is being seen as a relatively positive step toward moderation for the IOC after years of out-of-control host city spending. Ian Crouch wrote recently in the New Yorker that "both Tokyo and another finalist for 2020, Madrid, emphasized the infrastructure they already had rather than promise grand futuristic towers. Perhaps more bids will copy this blueprint going forward."
But the 79-year-old still sees the new round of spending as a waste. “I don’t want to see the Olympics at all," Jinno told the Japan Times. "Deep inside, I have a kind of grudge against the Olympics.”
Top image: Resident Kohei Jinno, 79, looks for his family photos inside his shop at Kasumigaoka apartment complex, which is located near the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo September 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)