While regional areas in Japan are suffering from a declining population, other districts, such as those in Tokyo’s bayside area, are struggling to control a surge in new residents. In 2019, Koto Ward’s population reached 518,000, an 80,000 increase over the past 10 years. Neighboring Chuo Ward’s population bottomed out at 72,000 in 1997 but now sits at 167,000. Numerous high-rise apartment towers and a desire to be closer to one’s office have been the main drivers behind the population growth.
A growing population is not always good news for local municipalities, with new residents adding to the already cramped transport systems and schools. The Toyosu Nishi Elementary School on Toyosu Island, Koto Ward, had 690 students in 2018. This number is expected to increase to over 1,300 in 2024 as new high-rise housing is completed in the neighborhood. Class sizes will increase from 21 to 37 students, requiring necessary building extensions.
Train stations are also suffering from overcrowding during the morning commute. Kachidoki Station on Kachidoki Island, Chuo Ward, had an average of 30,000 passengers a day in 2000. In 2018 it had increased to over 100,000 daily passengers. To alleviate congestion the Tokyo Metropolitan Government extended the station platforms last February. Chuo Ward officials have long been lobbying for a new subway line that would extend from Ginza and Tsukiji out towards Ariake Island. But, with an estimated cost of 250 billion Yen (approx. 2.3 billion USD), plans are far from coming to fruition.
With further residential developments underway on these manmade islands on the bay, the resident population is only going to grow further. The conversion of the Athlete’s Village on Harumi Island into condominiums and apartments after the 2020 Olympics will see another 5,000 households move in.
Tokyo’s four wards of Minato, Chiyoda, Chuo, and Koto are expected to see population numbers increase until 2045, outpacing population growth for the metropolitan area as a whole.
Source: The Nikkei Shimbun, November 28, 2019.
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