War memorial will not replace earthquake hall

Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials on June 2 withdrew plans to raze the major part of an earthquake memorial hall in Sumida Ward that architects praise as a historic structure, after receiving harsh protests from experts and the media over efforts to build a war memorial hall.

The metro government had been planning to dismantle all but the facade and part of the walls of the Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Memorial Hall in Sumida Ward, which was built in 1931 dedicated to victims of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, to build the controversial hall to commemorate people who lost their lives in World War II. The initial plan was to purchase land for the war hall, but this option was dropped due to severe financial constraints and instead the quake hall compound was to serve as the site, after most of it was dismantled.

According to the new plan, exhibition rooms of the war hall will be constructed underground, and the quake hall structure will be preserved. The officials proposed the revised plan at a session June 2 of an advisory committee to the governor on the project.

But many committee members complained and called for more thorough review of the project, saying the decision on the site should have been discussed from the beginning. In March, the Architectural Institute of Japan, a national association of architects and scholars, lodged a protest with the metropolitan government in March, demanding that the quake hall be preserved.