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The right to adequate housing: evictions of the homeless and the elderly caused by the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

15th August 2019

Author - Naofumi Suzuki, Tetsuo Ogawa & Nanako Inaba

The right to adequate housing: evictions of the homeless and the elderly caused by the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Abstract

The reconstruction of the National Stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo has induced displacement of two groups of vulnerable people, raising concerns of the violation of human rights, particularly the right to adequate housing. The expansion of the stadium led to the expulsion of dozens of homeless people who lived in and around the park surrounding the stadium, and a sudden decision to demolish a nearby public housing estate built for the 1964 Summer Games forced over 200 tenants, most of whom were elderly, to be relocated. While the homeless people engaged in several rounds of negotiation with the government authorities, the majority of the housing tenants reluctantly agreed to move except for a few who kept demanding respectful treatment from the metropolitan government. Presenting the preliminary results of a mixed-method three-year qualitative study, this research note demonstrates that while the authority might have offered alternative housing considered ‘adequate’ in terms of physical living conditions, the process of evictions did not afford autonomy for the affected to choose where to live. The respective status of the affected – homeless and elderly – may demand the reconsideration of the concept of ‘adequate housing’ in relation to human dignity.