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Empress Michiko's Home


15 Apr 2002
There is a movement going on to preserve and save Empress Michiko's home from destruction.

Although the land is worth 3.4 million, there is a movement going on to buy the house and land and reform it back to it's original.

I've read about that story. I'm sure that there are quite a lot of "uyoku" who'd be more than willing to preserve imperial belongings.

Seriously, it's a pity that some Japanese show such a disrespect for their cultural heritage. Money rules.
Large City Tokyo with little free land available, so I guess necessity rules.

hehe, if the "uyoku" did buy it they'd finally be doing something good for the general public instead of being their usual noisy-selves.
Empress has no inclination to keep old home

=> japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=237803

"No inclination" translates as "insufficient financial means". Michiko-sama's family is unwilling to pay the astronomical sum of 300 million yen in inheritance taxes that would have been due.
Funny thing...

My wife (who is a Japanese National) says that she should go ahead and sell the house to the highest bidder.

And I (an American) thought that it should be preserved by the government as a National Historical Site, and made into a museum.

I'm also in favor of conserving old buildings, especially in Japan,
where historic architecture is not held in high esteem.
From reading the Japan Times a few days ago, apparently there's a small town somewhere in Japan (I forget where) that is also trying to buy the house so that they can have it dismantled and re-assembled locally. I think it's a place where the Imperial family go on holiday or something.
I know it's an old thread, but I was glad to read that there IS civil resistance to the demolition of old architecture:

Mayor faces axe over destruction of historic building

The Toyosato Municipal Government had decided to demolish the building last year arguing that a study had shown that it was not strong enough to withstand a major earthquake. The school complex is an art deco building designed and built in 1937 by a prominent American missionary and entrepreneur, William Merrell Vories. [...]

Local residents then filed a criminal complaint with the prefectural police, accusing the mayor of willful destruction of property by ordering the workers to demolish the school building in defiance of the court's provisional injunction.

In response, police investigators search the building to see if they could charge the mayor. The mayor apparently bowed to pressure from local residents and abandoned his plan to demolish the building. Mayor Ono has since announced that he will preserve the building but insisted on constructing a new multi-billion yen school building in its compound to the conservationists' dismay.


Clap, clap, clap!

They have finally started to dismantle the building, despite opposition.

Residents obstruct dismantling of Empress' family home

Dismantlement of Empress Michiko's parental home in a posh Tokyo area began on Thursday in spite of attempts to block the move by locals who want to preserve the house, officials said. The house of Hidesaburo Shoda, the Empress' father, was donated to the Ministry of Finance after his death in 1999.

=> mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/20030116p2a00m0fp017000c.html

Demolition of empress's former home begins

=> japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=246055

Battle to save Tokyo landmark from bulldozers

Alex Kerr: "The supply of beautiful old buildings is not inexhaustible and the time may come in the not too distant future when Japan will have damaged its old cities beyond hope. Some fear that time is already here. . . Japan has become arguably the world's ugliest country."

Thousands of Japanese have joined a campaign to stop the Empress Michiko's childhood home becoming the latest victim of the country's insatiable urge to demolish its architectural heritage. The ministry of finance took the house in southern Tokyo, which combines Japanese building techniques with a Tudor design, in lieu of inheritance taxes when her father, Hidesaburo Shoda, died four years ago. A wealthy merchant, Mr Shoda built the house in 1934. The empress lived there until her marriage to the then Crown Prince Akihito in 1959. In a city of eyesores, it stands out as a rare example of pre-war architecture. The finance ministry, though, decided that the building was not worth maintaining amid a continuing recession and growing public debt. Critics point out that Japan is spending vast sums on unnecessary dams and motorways to rural hinterlands. [...] More than 90,000 Japanese have signed petitions against the house's destruction. The ongoing demolition and rebuilding of Japan has robbed it of almost any visible sign of its history. [...]

The reason is political. In Japan, construction firms fund politicians' election campaigns in return for more contracts. Construction workers and their families, as much as a fifth of the population, vote accordingly. But there are now signs that endless demolition and rebuilding may be becoming a political liability. The mayor of Toyosato in western Japan was voted out of office this week in a referendum after he attempted to tear down the small town's historic primary school. The school, which Japanese say is among the most remarkable in Asia, is an art deco classic built in 1937 by the American architect William Merrel Vories. The elegant, high-ceilinged building stands in sharp contrast to the nondescript educational establishments all across Japan. The mayor, Wasaburo Ono, said that the school could not withstand a major earthquake and announced plans to replace it with a new building at a cost of ツ」10 million. However, professors and architects argued that the old building is a masterpiece that requires relatively little work to reinforce. Residents won a court order to prevent the demolition in December. In an almost unbelievable scene for law-abiding Japan, the mayor ignored the injunction and ordered work to proceed. Local people blocked contractors from reaching the building but the workers began to smash windows by throwing bricks. Teachers inside were forced to flee. An editorial in the national Mainichi newspaper called the sacking of the mayor a victory for democracy over pro-construction policies. But the American writer Alex Kerr, whose book Dogs and Demons describes Japan's construction frenzy, argues that it may be too late.

=> telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;?xml=/news/2003/03/15/wjapan15.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/03/15/ixworld.html
Interesting thread as clearly both sides have a compelling argument re: urban sprawl vs. historic preservation. For myself, I tend to lean more towards preservation in cases like this and am saddened to hear of it ultimately being dismantled despite protests from the local community. At least the land will be used for a new park from which the locals may benefit from as opposed to say a simple parking lot (albeit that is an extreme example).
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