• Kyodo News


The Matsuzakaya department store in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district may be forced to scale back a renewal plan it says is vital to its survival.

The project envisages rebuilding the store into a commercial and residential complex with a height of up to 190 meters, but the Chuo Ward assembly passed an ordinance Friday to limit the maximum height of buildings in Ginza to 56 meters.

Despite its location on Ginza’s main thoroughfare, the decrepit store is operating in the red.

Matsuzakaya officials therefore say the project holds the key to the company’s future.

With the project timed for the store’s centennial in 2010, Matsuzakaya President Shunichi Samura said, “We will raise our brand power in Tokyo to become a nationwide department store” by building the high-rise complex.

Plans call for the building to house not only the Matsuzakaya outlet but also a hotel, residential units and other facilities.

But the passage of the ordinance, whose advocates claim is aimed at preserving Ginza’s character, will unavoidably force Matsuzakaya to review the project.

Behind the ordinance is strong opposition to the Matsuzakaya project among the district’s landowners and retailers.

Samura said Matsuzakaya will continue seeking local understanding about the project. But as Chuo Ward officials say an immediate amendment to the ordinance is impossible, Matsuzakaya may find it unavoidable to scale back the project.

In fact, Matsuzakaya has an alternative plan for a low-rise complex which company officials say will undoubtedly turn the renewed Ginza store into profitability.

Attention is already focused on how Matsuzakaya will revise its plan so as to win local acceptance.

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