→Protest Nike: Second Sin / the social cleansing of the homeless in Shibuya, Tokyo
Protest Nike: Second Sin – the social cleansing of the homeless in Shibuya, Tokyo (a dubious gentrification plan)Due to limited numbers of temporary shelters provided by the Tokyo social welfare service, many people affected by the global financial crisis in Japan are now forced to live in public parks. While these parks are the only refuge for such people, NIKE, under the guise of making a ’social welfare donation’, is converting one of Tokyo’s principle parks into a purpose-built sports facility that will also serve as a lucrative advertising space. We oppose this decision, which will increase hardship and social misery for impoverished and displaced people. Since NIKE’s worldwide headquarters is located in the United States, we call for our American friends and friends in other countries to restart protests against NIKE and its harmful business practices.
Location : Flont of Nike Japan
Link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZJTkhdeZEM
DID YOU KNOW that Miyashita Park (Shibuya, Tokyo) is going to disappear?
NIKE, the sporting giant that has established its name for turning backstreet sports into “main street” sports, has now come up with a project to construct a NIKE Park in Shibuya, the most fashionable area in Tokyo. The park will provide facilities such as skateboarding pipes and rock-climbing areas. The agreement between the Shibuya Ward Council and NIKE Japan provides that NIKE Japan will purchase the naming rights of the park, which is located a stone’s throw from Shibuya Station — a prime location for advertisement — thus enabling the Shibuya Ward to benefit financially from the sale of the naming rights. This deal seems to produce a mundane “win-win” relationship between a local administrative body and a corporate giant, but is it really so? In our view, NIKE — a global corporation infamously recognized for business practices that have led to exploitative and harsh working conditions in Southeast Asian countries by owning the world’s leading sweatshop — is going to exploit vulnerable people yet again through purchasing the dubious right to establish a monopoly over a public park.
Tokyo is known for having considerably fewer public parks than other global capitals such as New York, London and Paris. Urbanites often consider public parks an oasis. On weekends they get used for picnics; on weekdays parks offer a place for workers to lunch; and at night, they serve as accommodation for the homeless. In other words, public parks have different faces at different times of the day and week, and so represent freedom and the lifestyle multiplicity urban life allows. But, Miyashita Park, one of few remaining public parks in the heart of Tokyo, is now on the verge of ‘privatisation’ by NIKE.
How the deal happened and how problems emerged
In early May 2008, a local community journal exposed the NIKE park project. The story captured public attention because the head of the ward and a handful of local congressional members single-handedly negotiated the project without consultation by local residents or debate in the local congressional assembly. A pro-project congress member, Takeshi Ito, has explained to the mass media that, “the project is of no concern for the local congressional assembly because the cost will not come from the ward’s budget.” However, the problem is not just about the public expenditure. Miyashita Park is a public park owned by Shibuya Ward and local residents have the right for their views about the NIKE project to be considered by the local assembly. Furthermore, equally questionable, is that the work for this park redevelopment project was not tendered for public bid. Instead, NIKE Japan’s payment appeared to be dealt as ‘donation’ to the Shibuya Ward to legally manoeuvre the competitive process.
In summary, the main problems of the NIKE Park project are:
1. The park becomes a private, consumer-oriented advertisement space rather than a ‘public’ space for multiple uses;
2. The urban development strategy of the Shibuya Station area provides less and less space for non-consumer oriented places;
3. The sale of naming rights for the park was only ‘reported’ to the local congressional assembly and negotiated without prior consultation with local residents or the local assembly;
4. The Shibuya Ward seems to endorse the view that award of a non-competitive contract for public work is legitimate.
The price of annual naming rights for \17 million yen ($170,000 dollars) that Nike Japan will pay under the name of ‘donation’, which is effectively the tenancy rights, is considerably lower than the average for annual tenancy of a similar property that is approximately \50 million yen ($500,000 dollars).
As a result of the ongoing world recession, an increasing number of people are losing their jobs and social welfare services cannot provide adequately for them because of limited resources. Even since April 2009, more unskilled workers have become homeless because state and local government have so far been unable to confront the economic crisis with concrete, effective solutions. In such a circumstance, is depriving people who have no other place else to go a decision an administrative body should make? We want Miyashita Park to exist not as a consumer-oriented NIKE Park, but as a park that defines itself through the practical social support it provides to all of the people who live there.
We kindly ask you to send your opinion to NIKE US, NIKE Japan or Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.