Security guard injured for 4 to 6 weeks” … Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, filed a damage report with the police.
In the early morning of April 11, a mysterious “incident” occurred in the city center near the Imperial Palace.
Chiyoda Ward is in the process of road maintenance along the Kanda Police Street, and the police attempted to enter the area early in the morning. During the work, a group of residents opposed to the felling of the ginkgo trees along the street obstructed the work, resulting in the injury of a Chiyoda Ward employee. The ward posted a one-sided statement on its website claiming that the ward employee suffered a minor injury and the security guard a total of 4 to 6 weeks in recovery, and that a damage report had been submitted to and accepted by the Kanda Police Station.
However, the residents’ testimonies are completely different. According to a source on the residents’ side, two residents were also injured, but there is no mention of this on the ward’s website.
One resident said, “We are not opposed to the construction, but would like the construction to go ahead as soon as possible. They want to discuss whether they can keep the ginkgo trees that line the street. In previous discussions, the district has promised to contact them in advance of the construction work, but they have been unable to keep that promise, and the residents have been cooperating intermittently for about a year, guarding the trees at the site in the middle of the night, they said.
Testimony from the residents: “The security guard was smirking, this is not a good idea…”
Residents were guarding the trees that day as well, but early in the morning, as they passed by the ward office on their way home from the site, they noticed some disturbing activity.
A number of cars were parked and a number of people were there.
Realizing that something was wrong on the ward side, he contacted his friends, and the residents gathered at the tree-guard site.
About 4:00 a.m. early in the morning, the ward put up a construction fence to prevent residents from approaching the site. A TV station was also at the site. There were about 20 to 30 strong-looking security guards.
Large, stout people with their hands behind their backs stood in front of us and followed us around as if they were pushing us around.
A woman who rushed to the scene also said
A woman who rushed to the scene also testified, “The security guard was smiling at us and saying things like, ‘This is not good, this is not good.
I felt very uncomfortable,” she testified. When she tried to move to the side to get away from the guard, “the guard came in front of me on purpose,” she said.
The district claims that the residents physically assaulted them, but the residents insist that there was no physical assault. Rather, they say that the residents were pushed by the fence and fell down, and that some people suffered bruises and abrasions.
Some residents took video of the scene with their phones. The video also showed the guard slowly falling over himself. Some residents who were at the scene said that the guard might have been seriously injured, but an official on the residents’ side who saw the video said, “I don’t believe that person was seriously injured. If someone was seriously injured, it would have to be someone else,” he said.
An ambulance was called to the scene and a security guard was placed on board, but the resident who saw this said that he did not feel that he was seriously injured and that the ambulance was parked at the scene for a long time. On the other hand, the police officer who arrived at the scene after the resident called 110 said, “We are in a neutral position and would like the Chiyoda Ward and the resident to discuss the situation carefully,” and did not handle the incident on the spot.
What is the road maintenance of Kanda Police Street…
The road maintenance of Kanda Police Street is currently in the second phase of construction. Ginkgo trees are to be cut down and replaced with rows of cherry trees in order to widen the sidewalks.
According to a representative of the ward’s Environment and Community Development Department, the site is planned to widen the sidewalk area to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to pass, and it would be difficult to maintain the area with the ginkgo trees remaining. In addition, the ginkgo trees are prone to handling large amounts of fallen leaves and to slipping on fallen leaves when it rains, and there is also the problem of the bad odor of ginkgo trees, and “there are many requests to change to other tree species,” he explains. After discussion, they decided to replace them with yoko-zakura trees.
On the other hand, during the tenure of Masami Ishikawa, the previous mayor of the district, the ginkgo trees were left in place during the first phase of construction due to the opposition of residents to the felling of the trees. The district cited the uniqueness of the first-phase section, saying that schools and halls on both sides of the road created very little demand for parking, and that by eliminating the parking strip, sidewalk space could be secured even if the rows of trees were left in place.
In contrast, residents who have continued to protect the trees during the night say that, like the first-phase section, the second-phase section does not require a parking strip and that the ginkgo trees should be able to remain. They say that cars park in front of the convenience store on Kanda Police Street for short periods of time, and that most cars park on the side street that intersects with Kanda Police Street at right angles. We are on the scene all the time,” he testified.
Residents and others have also refuted the results of a survey conducted in December 2007, in which the district claimed that there were many requests to change from the ginkgo to other tree species. Approximately 4,700 questionnaires were distributed to residents in the planned development area, and the response rate was low at 14.5%. The questions were arbitrary, and even those who wanted to keep the ginkgo trees were forced to choose the option of solving the problem, which included replanting the trees.
The issue of cutting down the gingko trees along Kanda Police Street was addressed by a ward assembly member in February of this year. Regarding the results of the survey, this ward assemblyman stated, “For a more detailed analysis, it is necessary to read the choices and the open-ended comments together, but at least we can clearly see that the will of the people was to preserve the existing roadside trees.
This ward councillor also said at the February ward council meeting.
“Please imagine an elderly woman, now in her 80s, sitting by a tree in this cold weather, shivering from the cold that could affect her health, and this is the only way she can appeal to the public.
Is there no one in the municipality of Chiyoda Ward who has the heart to sincerely face and discuss with the residents?
Interview and text by Hideki Asai： Hideki Asai