Two public dormitories for House of Representatives members on prime land in Tokyo will be demolished under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s drive to dispose of government assets for fiscal reconstruction.

The move has saddened veteran politicians, who remember the dormitories as the setting for secret late-night meetings by political bosses during tense moments.

A Lower House subcommittee decided June 14 to demolish the Takanawa and Aoyama dormitories in Minato Ward by the end of March.

Public dormitories were constructed for use by Diet members elected in districts outside Tokyo’s 23 wards. In addition to the two to be demolished, the Lower House has two others, in Kudan, Chiyoda Ward, and in Akasaka, Minato Ward. The Akasaka facility is being rebuilt.

The House of Councilors has two dormitories in Chiyoda Ward.

The rents range from 13,000 yen to 60,000 yen per month.

Completed in 1961, the Aoyama dorm, sitting on a 4,500-sq.-meter lot, is the oldest. It has 40 units, each with two rooms, a dining room and kitchen covering 46 sq. meters. But nearly half of the apartments are empty because the residents feel they don’t have enough living space.

The dormitory in Takanawa, built on a 13,000-sq.-meter lot in 1981, has 131 apartments, each with three rooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen covering 83 sq. meters. A total of 115 are occupied.

The Lower House will turn over the lots to the Finance Ministry for future sale, as there is a plan to build a metropolitan thoroughfare through its premises. According to the ministry, the dormitory lots’ combined value is about 10.020 billion yen — 6.470 billion yen for the Takanawa lot and 3.550 billion yen for the Aoyama site.

Lower House members are to be moved to the Kudan and Akasaka dormitories. The Akasaka dormitory has 300 apartments each covering 82 sq. meters with three rooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen.

Because members of ruling and opposition parties live in the public dormitories together, they have become important political stages. Until he became prime minister in 2001, Koizumi lived in the Takanawa dormitory.

Other residents of the Takanawa dorm have included Hiromu Nonaka, a former secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Shizuka Kamei, a former chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council and now acting leader of the People’s New Party and New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki.

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