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Questions linger about new Yamanote Line station

The new Yamanote Line staiton will be between Tamachi and Shinagawa
The new Yamanote Line station will be between Shinagawa and Tamachi (DECN)

TOKYO (TR) – Since the announcement last year of the establishment of a new station on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line, between Shinagawa and Tamachi, the project has been trumpeted with much fanfare in the vernacular press. But the Web site of weekly magazine Toyo Keizai is unsure about the plan’s feasibility.

Scheduled to be the 30th stop on East Japan Railway’s loop line, the new station is supposed to facilitate redevelopment for the area north of Shinagawa and make it a genkan, or doorway, for the capital from such cities as Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka.

Things are complicated though. “Tokyu and Toei both have train lines going into the area, and transferring needs to be smooth,” Toyo Keizai says. And that will mean getting the cooperation of rival companies.

Realizing the project will also mean making sure that there is a balance between office spaces and retail, and enough entertainment to attract people for reasons beyond heading to work.

Toyo Keizai points out that companies like Mori Building, with complexes such as Roppongi Hills, and Mitsui Fudosan, which has been heavily involved with redevelopment around Tokyo Station, have experience in such developments. By contrast, fronting JR East’s stations are 24 multi-tenant buildings, 154 shopping centers and 40 hotels — a meager portfolio that would make a major developer rather ashamed.

Can the rail company then can pull off such a project? “It has no experience in this area,” the article says.

There’s more. While the company wants to create an area that is pleasant to walk around with plenty of history, “plans are vague and managing to make this happen will be difficult.”

Local administrations, such as Tokyo’s Minato Ward, the aforementioned rival companies and the population will have to be on board to ensure such a large-scale development goes through without problems. “The project cannot move forward until the attitude of others is confirmed,” the article points out.

The new station is to open before Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020. With multiple other developments scheduled to cope with the increase in tourists between now and then, Toyo Keizai wonders whether the lack of clarity on JR East’s part means a “blunder” is in the cards.