Japan Post Holdings Co. has proposed getting the Tokyo Central Post Office registered as a tangible cultural property by preserving more of the building in its development plan for the property, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Tuesday.
Hatoyama, who openly opposed the plan to raze the 78-year-old building, indicated he plans to accept the proposal, effectively resolving a heated dispute over its cultural value.
“It would be best if we can just rebuild it as a valuable cultural property, but if that is difficult, I hope the redevelopment will be made” in a way that will preserve its outer appearance, Hatoyama said.
Japan Post, which is still wholly owned by the government, originally planned to preserve about 20 percent of the original building that sits in front of Tokyo Station and convert the rest into a modern 200-meter skyscraper as part of a redevelopment project.
But it decided to alter the original design to retain more of the building and to consult with the Cultural Affairs Agency on getting the site designated as a cultural property to appease Hatoyama, sources said.
Earlier this month, Japan Post President Yoshifumi Nishikawa said he intended to go ahead with the plan and ruled out the possibility of giving the site special cultural status.
He apparently decided to compromise to avoid delaying the project and angering the real estate firms expecting to reap future profits from the redeveloped area, they said.
Observers said discussions between Japan Post and the Cultural Affairs Agency may still get bogged down as they try to strike the delicate balance needed to ensure the profitability of the building and preserve the landscape of the historical site.
The question of whether the building will be registered as a tangible cultural property remains murky because the criteria used by the Cultural Affairs Agency for the designation are unclear, a source said.
“We can’t say at this stage how much (of the building) will need to be retained,” an agency official said.
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