March 2017, Miyashita Park, in Shibuya Ward, was completely enclosed by a
series of 3-meter-high steel panels. Since the end of last year, this park has
served as a place to sleep for approximately 20 people without shelter and, to
the best of our knowledge, nine people were sleeping in the park on the evening
of the 26th, just prior to the enclosure. Shibuya Ward initiated construction
of the enclosure early in the morning on the 27th and a large number of ward
personnel, security guards and police prohibited public entry into the park
after 9:00 am.
ward arranged for this blockade, excluding any and all persons from the park,
without providing prior notice to the general public and park users, including
unsheltered persons sleeping there. The unannounced and underhanded nature of
this move is troubling (see note 1 below). At the time of the enclosure,
several people sleeping in the park were driven out into the cold sleet. Some
who wished to wait until the downpour stopped were shut in by fencing without
any explanation regarding the construction, and later offered only temporary
accommodation at a doya (flophouse)
by ward personnel from the welfare division (see note 2). This kind of welfare
“assistance” coupled with forcible eviction, on the one hand, and the loss of
freedom of movement, on the other, are both insults to—and violations of—human
dignity. In actuality, when viewed from a human rights perspective, public
servants working in welfare ought to stand in opposition to the forcible
expulsion of people from public spaces, yet, in Shibuya Ward, the welfare
division serves as foot soldiers for evictions.
people staying in Miyashita Park at the time of the enclosure declined the
welfare officers’ offer of doya accommodation and remained in
the park until noon with the intent of protesting. However, the police were
mobilized against allies who had gathered to support (and asked to see) persons
protesting the sudden enclosure from inside the park. One ally was arrested.
Ward then had its personnel and security guards closely surround allies in the
park (including a staircase leading to the park, which remained unenclosed and
open for use), so as to prevent their movement, and for over 15 hours
inhumanely prevented them from using water fountains and toilets in the park.
Homeless persons and their allies in the park worked together with those
outside the park to demand a meeting with the Shibuya Ward mayor as well as a
secure, medium- to long-term place to sleep to avoid the rain; negotiations
continued past midnight.
Park Manager Yoshitake promised in a statement made by microphone that he will
negotiate with the Ward’s General Affairs Department to secure a sleeping place
from among Shibuya Ward’s public properties. Meanwhile, the delivery of
blankets and other necessities for sleeping was delayed by Shibuya Ward’s
non-responsiveness, and did not take place until after 1:00 am. More than 12
hours had elapsed since persons in the park had been promised that their
personal belongings would be returned after ward personnel removed them from
the park at 9:00 am.
present in Shibuya Ward, large-scale redevelopment—commonly referred to as the
hundred year plan—has progressed, including in areas surrounding Shibuya
Station. As a result, people experiencing homelessness are losing space where
they may rest during the day or night.
the same time, the number of people becoming homeless has not been in decline.
Under such circumstances, the development project slated for Miyashita Park by
Mitsui Fudosan Realty—and promoted by Shibuya Ward for the Olympic Games—has
begun with an eviction of persons who use the park to rest. Such a move
necessarily neglects the public nature of a park, which protects and preserves
the rights of all people to use park space, and is pervaded by a commercial
logic that is not based on any agreement with park users; i.e., the public.
Thus, these events—and this development project—represent violence against
public interests. The local government of Shibuya Ward, in fact, has repeatedly
ousted people experiencing homelessness from public spaces over recent years.
(See HIC-HLRN Open Letter on Miyashita Park: Nike Threatens Local Community Park, Japan and follow-up action.)
Ward Mayor Takeshi Hasebe has, since his time as a local councilor, brought
Shibuya Ward closer together with Nike [Corporation], thereby making possible
earlier reconstruction of Miyashita Park. Shibuya Ward recently lost a court
case advanced by evictees, suing for state compensation following 2010
Miyashita Park evictions.
succeeded the previous Shibuya Ward Mayor Kuwabara in 2015. Since he has
started his term as mayor, Hasebe has overseen two evictions that, by
definition, remove homeless persons from public spaces. It is clear that the
diversity and inclusion that Shibuya Ward advertises as part of its own values
are no more than superficial lip service and distract the public from a
public space for relocating evictees from the previous day. As the responsible
ward personnel refused to explain what was taking place regarding the
construction, one of the homeless persons there was arrested. In addition,
Shibuya Ward set up obstructions (planters) in a location that evictees had been
asking to move to, as it was well-suited to protect from bad weather.
Nonetheless, the people evicted from Miyashita Park are now doing their best to
secure a sleeping place.
We make this statement in anger to protest the actions taken by Shibuya Ward, Shibuya
Mayor Hasebe, and Mitsui Fudosan Realty.
spaces be returned!
Miyashita Park be returned!
Shibuya Ward ends all exclusion of homeless persons!
Mitsui Fudosan Realty withdraws from the new Miyashita project!
Mayor Hasebe engages in discussions with us now!
The Movement to Stop Nighttime Park Closure
Miyashita Park Roughsleepers’ Group
Steering Committee for Shibuya’s Winter Struggle 2016-2017
Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park
Free Association for the Subsistence and Well-being of the HOMELESS (NOJIREN)
express your solidarity with the evicted homeless people of Miyashita Park by
send faxes, emails, or call Shibuya Ward directly listed below.
Fax: +81-3-5458-4900 (Attn: Shibuya Ward Mayor Ken Hasebe)
(Attn: Shibuya Ward Mayor Ken Hasebe)
for blankets and donations:
* For further information, please read updates (generally in Japanese) by The
Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park at: http://minnanokouenn.blogspot.jp
1: The park department had posted print warnings on cardboard structures and a
storage unit that materials left in the park would be removed. The warnings,
dated 25 March, stated that objects had to be removed by 6 April. Also, at a
meeting held by the Shibuya Ward Residents` Committee on the Environment, held
on 24 March, the park director stated that construction for the new Miyashita
project would begin once designing was complete. At present, not only are
design plans for Miyashita incomplete, but the broader urban design plans have
not yet been determined.
2: Many of the facilities used by Shibuya Ward’s Welfare Department do not meet
standards established by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in its Guidelines
for the Establishment and Operation of Accommodation Facilities. In addition,
in reality, most people entering such facilities, leave due to exorbitant
“fees” changed by the facility (taken from the resident’s income from welfare
assistance provided by the ward), crowded living conditions (usually in small
rooms furnished with bunk beds), and rigid curfews, among other things.
center. Many people experiencing homelessness have stayed in Miyashita Park in
small cardboard or other structures since the late-1990s. In addition,
Miyashita Park has served as a space for organized “outdoor soup kitchens” and
other collective actions to protect and preserve the health and interests of
homeless persons. In 2009, Nike Japan and Shibuya Ward signed a contract that
awarded naming rights for Miyashita Park to Nike [Corporation], and included
terms for park reconstruction. The construction was delayed because of
widespread protest, and Nike eventually gave up renaming the park in its name.
in the fall of 2010, Shibuya Ward closed the park to the public after evicting
homeless persons staying there. In the spring of 2011, the park was reopened
with over half of its space dedicated to new pay-to-use facilities such as a
skating park. At night, the park was closed and locked.
the spring of 2015, a court judgment released in the case for damages against
Shibuya Ward ruled that the contract between Nike and Shibuya Ward was illegal.
In the fall of 2015, Mitsui Fudosan Realty, one of Japan’s three major real
estate corporations, decided on a plan to newly build Miyashita Park atop a
three-story shopping mall and alongside a 17-story hotel. From the winter of
2016, a campaign to stop the nighttime closure of Miyashita Park began and,
since then, 10 to 20 people have been sleeping there nightly. We also installed
a storage unit for blankets in the park.
Miyashita Park has served as an important space for survival for homeless
persons. It is also an important space where anyone in the city could spend
time without having to spend money. However, in recent years, large companies
such as Nike and Mitsui Fudosan Realty, as well as Shibuya Ward, have tried to
turn the park into a site for commercial profit. In their eyes, members of the
public who cannot pay for use of the park, such as persons experiencing
homelessness, are unwelcome. We have long decried Shibuya Ward’s attempts to
sell the park to the highest-bidding businesses and its disregard for human rights
and lives or persons staying in the park.
Homeless people’s shelters in Miyashita Park, Shibuya Ward, Central Tokyo.
Source: A Park Life.
HIC-HLRN Urgent Action: Tokyo, Arakawa
City Nature Conservancy Evicts Homeless