A couple of weeks ago, I met up with some other concerned foreign residents to discuss the aquarium being built on Umekoji Park and what we could do to help the local fight against it. To recap the situation: the city administration has given Orix Corporation permission to build a giant aquarium on the much-loved parkland at Umekoji. This decision was made behind closed doors without public input and construction began in July despite public opposition.
Personally I think we should be marching on city hall with pitchforks and torches and demanding the mayor’s resignation – however the other members of our group are much more realistic than that. So the first step we agreed on was to set up an online petition setting forth our arguments against this terrible, short-sighted plan. In a nut-shell they are as follows:
- Any loss of green space in the city is a tragic loss for the local environment and for Kyoto city residents’ mental and physical well-being.
- The aquarium is a bad fit for Kyoto and thereby economically unviable. This is not what visitors to Kyoto come to see.
- Orix and the city mayor have claimed that the aquarium will educate children about the marine environment but this position is untenable. An aquarium is a highly artificial environment in which living creatures are unhappily interred and Kyoto is not a maritime city.
Well, after two weeks of writing, editing, discussing, rewriting and translating (thanks to Chris Rowthorn’s wife!), the English version of the petition is now online! (Unfortunately, Care2.com can’t read 日本語 so Barry Louie is still looking for a separate home for the Japanese version.) This petition was written in a spirit of love for Umekoji Park and for this fine old city. We want to protect it! Please help us! Click on this link, read our letter (not sure if you can see the actual petition letter in the widget below so click on the link), and sign our petition! And then tell your friends! And then ask them to tell their friends! This petition will be delivered to city hall for the attention of Mayor Kadokawa.
Without doubt there will be further action on this – I shall keep you all posted. Despite the odds, we still have a fighting chance of stopping this aquarium – a few days ago the Mainichi Shimbun reported that construction had been halted after Heian Jidai artifacts had been found on site! History is literally on our side folks! How can we lose?
Many thanks to the other members who have helped to get this going: Barry Louie, Chris Rowthorn, Will Baber, Stewart Wachs, Ken Rodgers, and John Dougill.