Joint Statement Demanding a Halt to the Sale of Naming Rights and
an End to Reconstruction of “Miyashita Nike Park”
On August 27, 2009, in a ceremony closed to the public, Nike Japan and the mayor of Shibuya signed a contract of sale for the naming rights to “Miyashita Nike Park”. Shortly after, on September 1st, the final rendering of official plans was published in the ward newsletter. Although sufficient explanation has still not yet been given, conversion of the park has already begun and construction is set to continue through April 2010. By this joint statement, we demand that the above actions be halted for the following four reasons.
1. The plans to convert Miyashita Park are exceedingly detrimental to the park’s value as a public property.
The plans to convert Miyashita Park include installing new, fee-based skateboarding and rock climbing facilities and changing the name to Miyashita Nike Park. Nike will occupy a majority of the park, including its current futsal court, and use this space for promotion. In effect, users of the park will be limited to persons interested in the sports facilities?in other words, potential Nike customers.
The park’s nature as a place where the young and old, men and women alike can relax in a diverse range of ways without having to spend a penny will be lost. Instead, it will become the domain of one single corporation capable of using the space as it pleases for the sake of its own commercial interest.
2. Democratic processes have been ignored
This plan deviates far from the scope of a simple contract for naming rights and involves the conversion of the actual interior of the park. Despite this fact, over the last year Shibuya ward has refused to release information on the basic plan to the public, failed to open the issue to the public for comments, and, surprisingly, advanced the issue in a top-down fashion without even submitting it to the local ward assembly for discussion or a vote. In addition, there is no evidence that open competitive bidding for the contract ever took place and the ward refuses to release information regarding whether corporations other than Nike Japan were ever under consideration.
3. Persons staying in the park will be evicted
Construction for the park will deprive 30 persons currently living within its bounds, with nowhere to go, of their homes. Neither Nike Japan nor Shibuya Ward have come forth with a sufficient explanation for their action or plan for resolution of this problem.
Due to the global economic crisis that has impacted Japan since last year, growing numbers of people are losing their homes and jobs, and more people than ever are turning to (non-government run) free food services in the Tokyo area.
Despite the fact that government offices have been incapable of dealing with this reality, public food services are being shut down and the Shibuya government plans to shut out by October forty homeless people that have been sleeping in the parking garage by their ward office. Public spaces such as Miyashita Park serve a very real function as a place of refuge for transient and poor populations suffering from social and economic exclusion. Evicting homeless persons from the park not only directly threatens these individuals, but also poses a true and equal danger to all people who lose their jobs or homes.
4. These plans to build Nike Park are a fine example of globalization itself
Nike Japan is fully ignoring the social, local, and ethical implications of its actions as it turns Miyashita Park into a space where it would have free rein to market its products. In an environment of deregulation, we have seen the sidestepping of appropriate procedures, such as review by the local ward assembly and the public release of information, and the forceful eviction of the poor. Not just here in Miyashita, but everywhere around the world we see spaces being forced into market fundamentalism and people and objects being transformed into markets or products. We stand opposed to a handful of multi-national corporations reorganizing the whole of society by the advance of such globalization.