‘Sad, lonely feeling’: Tokyo man evicted twice, 50 years apart, for Olympic construction

Article content

TOKYO — When Kohei Jinno was evicted from his family home to clear the way for the construction of the National Stadium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he was sad but proud to contribute to Japan in a moment of national triumph.

But when he was evicted again in 2013, at age 80, so the government could rebuild the stadium for the 2020 Games, it felt like a bitter twist of fate made worse by what he saw as official indifference.

It also forced him and his wife, Yasuko, out of a tight-knit public housing community in the Kasumigaoka neighborhood where they’d lived for over half a century.


Article content

“It was so hard to leave,” said Jinno, now 87. “It was the place I’d lived the longest in my life.”

Jinno hadn’t wanted the Olympics in Japan – thinking it too soon to host again – and said the announcement that roughly 200 families, many elderly, were being evicted from their housing complex in the shadow of the stadium came from nowhere.

“There wasn’t any consideration. If there’d only been one example of ‘you’re being asked to move, could you please possibly cooperate?’” Jinno said. “Instead, it was pretty much ‘we’re having the Olympics, you need to get out.’”

They moved to another public housing complex, but the old community was shattered.

“I would really have liked some understanding of how we felt,” Jinno said. “We got 170,000 yen ($1,500). What can you do with that? I just had to laugh. It took 1 million yen ($9,000) to move.”


Article content

A Tokyo city official said 170,000 yen is standard payment in that situation.

“We’re trained to be very polite, there’s public housing nearby, and officials devised various arrangements,” he added, declining to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “But to somebody who’d lived there a long time, officials probably did seem cold.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers declined to comment, noting that the stadium is the responsibility of the Japan Sport Council (JSC) and the relocation was handled by the Tokyo government in accordance with their laws. The JSC said the relocation was done in consultation with the Tokyo and national governments.


Jinno, the fourth of nine brothers, was born in Kasumigaoka, not far from what is now the posh Omotesando area in downtown Tokyo. After that house burned in World War Two, the family moved 20 meters away, where Jinno ran a tobacco shop attached to the family home.


Article content

Ahead of the 1964 Olympics, they were evicted to make way for the stadium and a surrounding park. The site of their home was paved over, the greenery that blanketed the area cut down, and a nearby river buried in concrete.

Jinno washed cars to make ends meet, living with Yasuko and their two children in one tiny room. But in 1965 he moved into the public housing complex and re-opened the tobacco shop.

“I never ran out of people to talk to,” he said. “I put a bench out, three or four people could sit. Kids would come by with their homework, ask for advice if they got in trouble.”

After their eviction notice in 2013, they moved in 2016.

The move was hard, particularly on Yasuko, who Jinno said was “lonely, depressed.” Late in 2018, at 84, she died.


Article content

Now living with his son in western Tokyo, Jinno visits the old neighborhood every few months.

Across from the gleaming new stadium, and just uphill from the site of his now-destroyed former home, is a small park with a set of Olympic rings where visitors pose and smile for photos.

Despite the impact of the Games on his life, he hopes they succeed, and is saddened that the pandemic has subdued the high spirits that would normally surround them.

But visiting the area, changed as it is, makes his heart pound.

“I think that I was born here, I was raised here,” he said. “When I look at the trees along the street that haven’t changed at all, I feel nostalgic but at the same time overflowing with a sad, lonely feeling.” (Reporting by Elaine Lies. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.


    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Source link


    5 Companies Betting On AI As The Future

    Two technologies are now making great strides in changing the world as we know it: blockchain and AI (Artificial Intelligence) They’re driving the...

    ‘Whoa whoa’: iPod’s inventor looks back on Apple’s ‘really big risks’

    While joining Apple, the world's most valuable company, seems like a no-brainer today, things were different back in 2001. That's when CEO Steve...

    Option Care Health Announces Upsizing and Pricing of Secondary Offering of 15,000,000 Shares of Common Stock

    BANNOCKBURN, Ill., June 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Option Care Health, Inc. (“Option Care Health” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: OPCH) announced today that...

    Amazon: Amazon buys encrypted messaging app Wickr

    Amazon said Friday it was acquiring the encrypted messaging app Wickr which offers secure communications for businesses, government agencies and individuals.Terms of the...