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January 22, 2007

Tocho explains their plans.

Tocho's plan is to create more parkland in Tokyo by refurbishing Aoyama Cemetery. They are now executing their plan to repurpose the cemetery and will turn the Foreign Section into an attraction in the cemetery.

Specifically, Tocho plans to renovate the area between the sidewalk and the first row of plots to create a viewing platform from which visitors can see the gravestones. Because the land slopes downward into the Foreign Section, the platform will require a protective barrier, steps and ramps to provide access to the cemetery. They will try to use materials that look natural.

Building the platform necessitates the removal of the bushes along the sidewalk. In addition, bushes and trees within the Foreign Section will be removed so that when people snap a photo they will get pictures of the stones, not shrubbery. Tocho plans to plant grass where trees and bushes are removed.

The land where the platform is proposed (as well as some other areas within the Foreign Section) is owned by Tocho, so they do not require permission from plot owners to remove the sidewalk bushes. They have notified owners of plots whose greenery may be removed and have received no complaints so far. Perhaps people using the graves will be happier without trees and bushes because they won't need to remove dead leaves. Tocho doesn’t know which trees are from the Meiji era, but says that some of the trees and plants will be replanted elsewhere in the cemetery and the remainder will be turned into chips or fertilizer.

Tocho is going to make a new sign about the people in the Foreign Section, but they know not when. A pamphlet about some of the famous people in Aoyama Cemetery was made last summer. Further "software things" are under discussion, but no decision has been made about funding historical research, or if the historical information could be disclosed.

Tocho added that there is a regulation giving Tocho the right to remove stones, graves, and bones if maintenance fees are not paid for five years, but Tocho decided in a meeting that they would not remove any gravestones from the Foreign Section when the right to use the land reverts to Tocho. These meeting minutes exist, but they must be requested through a "freedom of information form.” We requested meeting minutes via the form, but our request was denied.

Tocho explained that the only way to temporarily stop the construction is if a bomb is found on the site, or if a politician talks about it in the Diet, or many people demonstrate in front of the office in charge of construction.

End Tocho's explanation

Posted by Jonathan at January 22, 2007 09:27 PM

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