TOKYO – As the Japan Sport Council’s advisory panel on Tuesday approved a blueprint for the new national stadium, the nation was left wondering how it would find ¥252 billion to pay for it.
JSC, an external body of the education ministry in charge of stadium construction, and the education ministry, which is supervising the overall plan, have been blamed for failing to predict ballooning construction costs.
An initial estimate of ¥162 billion quickly morphed into ¥252 billion — and some fear the figure could rise again. Construction is expected to begin in October.
JSC executive Masao Yamasaki said Tuesday that the roof’s keel arches, a complicated architectural feature, accounted for the increased budget.
“There are only a few construction companies that could carry out the plan,” Yamasaki said. “There won’t be much competition so the prices aren’t likely to go down.”
The arches themselves will cost about ¥76.5 billion — and that’s the part of the design that many experts and architects have repeatedly criticized.
“Considering what the International Olympic Committee is carrying out for (cost-cutting) reform, the current cost is far from satisfactory,” said Japan Olympics Committee Chairman Tsunekazu Takeda.
The plan to build the new stadium kicked off in 2011 when a lawmakers’ group decided it was necessary to renovate the old stadium ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. JSC set up an advisory panel of experts in March 2012, and adopted a design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid by the end of the year.
The procedure alienated some sections of the government.
“We felt JSC and President of Japan Rugby Football Union Yoshiro Mori were carrying out the project on their own,” said an education ministry official.
It was only this April when education minister Hakubun Shimomura realized that the building as originally envisaged could not be built by the deadline. Furthermore, he admitted that they “came all the way without confirming who is responsible for the project.”
The ministry is yet to secure funds for the stadium. It plans to allocate ¥100 billion from the revenues of the high-earning soccer lottery, but it faces the risk that sales will decline. Shimomura is also counting on receiving private funds including donations and the sales of the naming rights, but the figures remain unclear.
“Some fear that the cost may soar once again, calling the decision premature. We need to give clear explanations to dispel the distrust,” said Ryu Hirofumi, a member of the JSC advisory panel and a Democratic Party of Japan member.