Skip to main content

Tokyo's Olympic dream is one man's eviction déjà vu

By Yoko Wakatsuki and Madison Park, CNN
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Fri September 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kohei Jinno, 80, stands to be evicted and lose his Tokyo shop -- again
  • His family home was razed before Tokyo's 1964 Olympics
  • Japanese capital recently won the right to host 2020 Games
  • Jinno says he has no energy to fight in court or to open another shop

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- The Olympics can be a cruel game with winners and losers. And in Tokyo, there is Kohei Jinno, 80 and his wife Yasuko, 79.

The elderly couple are experiencing a cruel sense of déjà vu, certainly not in keeping with the Olympic spirit.

"Why do we need another Olympic here?" Yasuko Jinno asked, referring to the recent decision to award the Summer Games to the city in 2020. "There are still many people there up in Tohoku (the northern Japan area hit by the 2011 earthquake). The money should be spent there, not here."

Their lack of enthusiasm stems from bitter memories of their first eviction.

Is hosting the Olympics a bad idea?
Tokyo celebrates winning 2020 Olympics
Tokyo wins 2020 Summer Olympic bid

Kohei Jinno's family home was razed to make way for the National Olympic Stadium ahead of the '64 Games. They were one of the last to leave the area after fighting in court. He also lost his tobacco shop to the construction project and had to start anew.

The family eventually agreed to move after the city government found a new apartment for them.

And nearly 50 years later, the aging couple is being asked to do it all over again.

Plans to expand the existing National Olympic Stadium means accommodating 80,000 spectators under an all-weather roof, which is the standard for hosting the opening ceremony. And that also means the couple's current apartment, which is owned by the Tokyo government, is in an area at the heart of that project.

Jinno's small tobacco shop at the ground level of the Kasumigaoka Apartments, is also to be demolished for the expanded stadium.

"There was only one explanation session held by the government so far, and that's it," said Yasuko Jinno.

A Tokyo housing official said that the government has been talking to the residents of Kasumigaoka Apartment since last summer when the project for the new stadium was revealed and that it has shown options to the residents to move.

The couple will be close to 90 by the time the Olympic Games returns to their neighborhood.

Kohei Jinno says they have no energy left to fight another drawn-out court case. He cannot open a new tobacco shop, because such businesses are heavily regulated.

"I don't want to see another Olympics," he said. "The money should be spent on the people who are still suffering after the quake and tsunami."

Soon, they'll have to leave their apartment, the open balcony where they've gotten to know their neighbors for the last five decades. Kohei Jinno will no longer take his daily stroll to his tobacco and public phone shop.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee pipped Tokyo over Madrid and Istanbul for the right to host the world's biggest sporting event in seven years. The city raised significant capital and was considered the safe choice, despite the ongoing concerns over high radiation levels at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Tokyo's government had amassed a $4.9 billion Olympic fund to prepare for the Games, according to aroundtherings.com, which covers the business and politics of the Olympics. The Tokyo bid has been touted as a way of breathing new life into the world's third-largest economy, which has been dogged by deflation, stagnation and the Fukushima leaks in recent years.

When Tokyo won the Olympic bid, crowds at the capital welcomed the news, cheering and holding signs reading "We're waiting for the world to come to Tokyo in 2020."

Instead, Yasuko Jinno felt shock. "I did not think Tokyo would win and the Olympics would come here again."

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki reported from Japan and Madison Park wrote from Hong Kong.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Ukraine says it's forces have regained control of an airfield from Russian separatists. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
updated 1:50 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
ADVERTISEMENT