80% of Tsukuba referendum voters veto plan for ¥30.5 billion park
TSUKUBA, IBARAKI PREF. – More than 80 percent of residents in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, who voted in Sunday’s referendum on the city’s plans to build a new park voted against the project, it has been learned.
A total of 63,482 people disapproved of plans to build the ¥30.5 billion park with 11 sports facilities, compared to 15,101 people who expressed support. The voter turnout was 47.3 percent.
While the referendum is not legally binding, the city’s ordinance stipulates that the mayor and the municipal assembly respect its outcome. Tsukuba Mayor Kenichi Ichihara said Sunday night he will “consider the option of canceling the construction plan.”
A local citizens’ group opposed to the park demanded that the city reconsider the project with the participation of residents.
The group had demanded that the city withdraw the plans to build the costly park, saying it would be a huge financial burden for future generations. Its campaign gained momentum after the central government’s decision on July 17 to review the construction plan for the stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to its spiraling costs.
Tsukuba approved a basic plan for the construction project in February. According to the plan, the city would build 11 sports facilities over 10 years. The mayor had maintained he wants to make the park a centerpiece of the city’s redevelopment efforts.
The city explained back then that it would ask the central government to shoulder ¥14 billion of the cost in subsidies, and issue bonds totaling ¥14.8 billion, which would be repaid over the next 30 years. The remaining cost would be financed through the city’s general revenue.
The citizens’ group argued that the project is too costly for a city with an annual revenue of ¥70 billion and collected signatures against it from residents, setting the stage for Sunday’s poll. Tsukuba had a total of 167,589 eligible voters as of Sunday.