Japan stadium where Babe Ruth played may face wrecking ball

Tokyo –

The historic baseball stadium in Tokyo where Babe Ruth played could be demolished.

Ruth went on a barnstorming tour at Meiji Jingu Stadium in 1934 with other American stars including Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez and Jimmy Fox. Ruth hit several home runs in front of 60,000 fans in a game at the stadium, home of the Japanese league champion Yakult Swallows.

Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Koshien Stadium in Kobe are the only three other major ballparks where Ruth has played. Wrigley and Fenway were renovated, but plans to preserve Meiji Shrine were dismissed by developers and politicians.

The stadium opened in 1926 in an area known as Meiji Gaien, a green belt in central Tokyo famous for its rows of about 150 ginkgo trees. The plan calls for the ballpark and adjacent rugby stadium to be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere in the reconfigured space to make room for two towering skyscrapers and a shopping he area.

“I really don’t think nature should be sacrificed for short-term economic growth,” said Natsuka Kusumoto, a university student who is campaigning against redevelopment. “If we are to stop global warming, we must face how to balance economic growth with conservation of nature.”

She said real estate developers, construction companies and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike “are not listening to the people who live in this town.”

“There are many 100-year-old trees around here in Jingu Gaien.

The new baseball field will be built flush with ginkgo trees, which environmentalists say damage their complex root systems, causing them to die or damage.

Opponents of the project collected about 180,000 signatures on a petition, and hundreds protested in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building on Sunday.

A poll last year by the Tokyo Shimbun found 69.5% opposed to the project.

A large project can take 13 years to complete, and the ballpark will last for a few more years. But the clock is ticking.

Tokyo Governor Koike is at the center of the storm. Activists believe she has the power to cancel the project, but she has given the developer permission to begin preliminary construction, with the city’s Environmental Assessment Board still investigating the project. and is raising an issue.

Renowned Japanese composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto sent Koike a moving letter just days before he died on March 28, voicing his opposition to his final cause, the project.

According to Japanese news agency Kyodo News, Sakamoto wrote, “The precious trees of the shrine that our ancestors spent 100 years protecting and nurturing should not be sacrificed for economic gain.” .

At a press conference two months ago, Koike touched on the redevelopment led by Mitsui Fudosan. Although she was a driving force behind the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she has not been implicated in the corruption epidemic surrounding the Olympics.

The presence of the Olympics helped the city pass an ordinance that lifted height restrictions in the area, allowing for plans for new skyscrapers.

Koike said the redevelopment could increase the number of trees in the area from 1,904 to 1,998 and increase the “green space coverage” from 25% to 30%.

“But not all trees are the same,” said Rochelle Kopp, who runs a management consulting firm in Tokyo and is a leader of the protest movement. It provides a lot of CO2 sequestration and cooling effect.”

She also said Koike’s statement that “green space” would increase was misleading.

“The green surface area increases, but the felling of large trees greatly reduces the amount of green.”

Kopp said an injunction to stop preliminary work could be filed within the next few weeks. She also said that 27 Japanese lawmakers have started considering the project. She said some of the plans have been completed, but many things are still pending.

Koike has tried to keep Tokyo away from the project, suggesting it was an outside initiative. It shows that he proposed to switch the place of

Mainstream Japanese newspapers have barely covered the issue, but the left-leaning Asahi Shimbun has called for a major overhaul of the project “because it could lead to serious environmental damage.”

Activists say lifestyles have changed since the pandemic, questioning the need for more office space.

“When I was a kid, I used to play in Jingu Gaien,” said Mao Kawaguchi, a local resident, at a weekend protest. “I think the Jingu Gaien forest belongs to everyone. Frankly, I feel like my life is being threatened. We want to exploit as much money as possible.

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