Popular Tokyo hotel to shelter nuclear evacuees before demolition

JAPAN – Formerly a popular dating spot and venue for glitzy televised wedding receptions for celebrities, the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka in central Tokyo has been given a final mission before demolition — serving as a shelter for people who have evacuated due to a crisis at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

The 40-story hotel, set to close at the end of this month, will accommodate up to 1,600 people from the prefecture who have been forced to leave due to the trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Tokyo metropolitan government made the announcement Thursday after receiving an offer from the building’s operator for the hotel to be used as a shelter for the evacuees after it stops business.

Commonly known as ”Aka Puri,” short for ”Akasaka Prince,” the hotel was one of the trendiest places in Tokyo during the 1980s, when Japan’s economy was booming, and provided the venue for meetings of politicians.

The hotel building, located in the stylish Akasaka district, has around 700 rooms. The authorities in Tokyo plan to make the building available for the evacuees from early April through the end of June. No hotel services will be provided but beds and other facilities will be left for use by the evacuees.

”We appreciate the offer of Tokyo’s prominent hotel. We hope it can alleviate the stress of the evacuees, mentally and physically,” said a metropolitan government official.

Further details, including conditions for securing a place and whether the evacuees will incur any expenses, will be announced at a later date.

Since the announcement, the metropolitan government has been flooded with inquiries from evacuees requesting to stay at the hotel.

The building, designed by the late architect Kenzo Tange, was added to the hotel’s old facility in 1983. The building is scheduled to be torn down in or after July.

Source: Kyodo News