[Graphic by IRA_K: Irregular Rhythm Asylum is an info shop in Tokyo for the following “A”s.]
In a follow up to Zurui’s September 2008 BT post discussing Scilla Alecci’s (Read Here) article regarding Nike’s plan to develop Miyashita park in Shibuya and turn it into a recreational facility has apparently hit a snag. The project has been three years in the making, but has been met with delays due to opposition and protest. Officials of the Shibuya ward have evicted the homeless people that live in the park, however activist have moved in and taken their place. Protesters are opposed to a single private company moving in to develop the free public park into a for-profit sports facility and have vowed to block construction crews and city officials. The AFP quotes an unnamed Nike representative as saying, “the project was part of its “social responsibility” work, and that the idea emerged almost three years ago, with construction work originally scheduled to have started last September. The park will be reborn as a 24-hour open public space, which will be safer. I think more people will be able to use it than now.”
In addition, the AFP also quoted a Shibuya ward official whom also wanted to remain anonymous as saying “the facilities are getting old, and the ward has to renovate them at some point. This project would benefit both the company and the ward office.” City officials have helped relocate the homeless individuals to shelters or other locations, but I wonder what Nike will do to contribute to the community other than make a nice expensive shiny new park with a skate ramps and rock climbing walls. The deal struck with the Shibuya ward is that Nike would pay 17 million yen (around $180,000) per year for the next 10 year for the right to rename the park and develop it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRo6Hedpeew&feature=player_embedded
“Our Park” Documentary
Nike is no stranger to controversy, with allegations of abuse, underage workers, low wages and long hours in its Asian factories its not a surprise they would be met with skepticism and protest. In addition, despite the fact that black consumers in the U.S. are a major part of Nike’s market, there is a lack of black employees in high positions within the company. Back in the ’90s the Rainbow Push Coalition made famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) by the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a nationwide boycott of Nike Corporation Inc., citing that the company had no blacks on its board of directors, no black vice presidents, did not use black law firms, black advertising agencies, or black media, and had no deposits in black banks. When taking on a global giant such as Nike it may look like an up hill battle to keep Miyashita park, but the protesters in Shibuya are getting support from people around the world in the form of protest and blog entries.