April 1st, the date that Nike had scheduled to start its conversion of Miyashita Park after receiving the green light from Shibuya Ward, has come and gone. On March 10th, the Park Division announced that the Shibuya Ward Assembly’s Urban Environment Commission would permit Nike Japan to commence construction in Miyashita Park from April 1st to late October. The construction would ultimately lead to the public park’s all-out conversion into ‘Miyashita Nike Park’, which the sporting goods giant plans to open in early November 2010. On March 16th, the Park Division manager came to Miyashita with a number of workers and tried to enforce the erection of a partition fence at the Harajuku side of the park. However, 60 Coalition members were able to effectively hold them off. In the weeks since, homeless activists, young artists and scores of other people have all converged in Miyashita Park to prevent construction and save the park by pitching tents, holding events, and collectively occupying the still public space. Nike officials (as advised by police it seems) did not attend the March 24th briefing in Shibuya, which had been set up to explain the construction process to local residents. Instead, staff from Shibuya’s Park Division and Tokyu Construction, contractor for the project, headed the meeting and fielded community concerns and outrage.
On March 31st, the day before construction was scheduled to start, The Coalition headed to the Ward Assembly in the afternoon, where it distributed information and sat in on official deliberations. On this day, the Assembly planned to vote on the “Ordinance for the Administration of Sports Facilities in Miyashita Park” and the “Ordinance to Amend Part of the Shibuya Ward Public Parks Ordinance”. Immediately after a tally of the votes showed that both Ordinances passed, The Coalition unrolled a banner from the Assembly gallery to remind Mayor Kuwahara and Ward Assembly members of voices of protest. In the evening, 190 people came together to march through the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya in opposition to the construction of “Nike Miyashita Park”. The procession included a stop in front of Harajuku’s newly built Nike Shop, where our marching band performed music charged by protest sentiments. Later, after returning to our base at the Harajuku side of Miyashita Park, we held a meeting and then called it a night. On this same day, countless international friends sent emails, letters, and faxes to both Shibuya Ward and Nike, while dedicated allies held simultaneous solidarity protests in front of Nike in Paris, the Japanese consulate in Sydney, Australia, and the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
Then, on April 1st, approximately 100 members and friends were on hand in Miyashita as The Coalition held a watch over the park from morning. By the end of the day, both Tokyu Construction and the Shibuya Ward Park Division had failed to show up. We stood at Miyashita Park’s central stairwell and gave a rousing call to the Tokyu Construction Head Office located at the other side of the street. From there, we moved to the Headquarters for Tokyu Corporation—the apex of the Tokyu Group, which has itself been responsible for past evictions of homeless persons—to meet in solidarity with workers holding a strike out front.
The Shibuya Ward Park Division expects that forcefully relocating homeless persons from Miyashita Park to an alternate site and declaring "the homeless problem” solved gives them sufficient clearance for continuing with the construction of Nike Park. This is not the case. Job loss has been severe in 2010, and is likely to continue into early May. As a result, countless numbers of workers in unstable employment are being forced onto the streets. Under no circumstances should we deprive them of the space for refuge and rest that Miyashita provides, especially considering how few alternatives there are in Shibuya’s highly urban landscape.
We have successfully held off the construction to date (April 6), but the possibility that Nike Japan and Shibuya Ward will make their move in April still looms. Our work has only just begun. We are continuing to collectively hold watch over Miyashita from 7:30 am every day.
Please show your support by contacting Shibuya Ward, Nike (Japan), and Tokyu Construction and voicing your opposition! Together we can bring an end to this unjust takeover of Miyashita Park!
SHIBUYA MAYOR Toshitake Kuwahara
Phone (English spoken): 03-3463-1234 ext.2454 – 7
NIKE CORPORATION (World HQ)
Phone: 1-503-671-6453, +1 503 671 2635,
Fax: +1 503 646 6926, Fax
Attn: General Manager James Godbout
Attn: President and Representative Director Tsuneo Izuka
The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park
Contact: Toshiro Ogaki, nojiren (at) jca.apc.org
Blog (Japanese): http://minnanokouenn.blogspot.com