Tokyo’s 40-year island dispute edging closer to resolution

In the middle of Tokyo Bay sits a 500 hectare manmade island that has been at the center of an ownership dispute between Tokyo’s Ota and Koto wards since its creation in the 1970s.

On July 18, the Tokyo metropolitan government started mediation between the two wards. On September 29th, Tokyo presented a proposal that would allocate 86% of the island to Koto and 14% to Ota. Opposition from Ota over the split, however, could see the dispute go to court.

The Central Breakwater Island is adjacent to the Tokyo Gate Bridge and 6.5km south of the Tsukiji Fish Market. Reclamation began in the 1973, using garbage to create the artificial island.  In 2002, the opening of the Tokyo Bay Rinkai Road connected connected the island via a tunnel to Ota’s Jonan Island. The opening of the Tokyo Gate Bridge in 2012 provided a connection to Koto ward.

Koto has been arguing that the land should fall under their jurisdiction since most of the garbage trucks carrying waste to the island pass through Koto ward. At first, Chuo, Minato, Shinagawa, Koto and Ota wards all claimed ownership of the island, but Chou, Minato and Shinagawa withdrew their claims in 2002.

Part of the island, including the Umi-no-mori Park, will host the boat, canoe and horse riding events in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The Asahi Shimbun, July 26, 2017.
The Tokyo Shimbun, September 30, 2017.