Petition urges end to using deforestation-led wood for Kengo Kuma’s Olympic stadium

A petition has been signed against the Japanese government’s use of wood that encourages deforestation and partakes in human rights violation, currently being used to build the Tokyo 2020 Olympics stadium, designed by architect Kengo Kuma.

The petition has 140,000 signatures that have been delivered to the Japanese embassies in Switzerland and Germany, demanding that the government rethink its position.

Bilong Oyoi, the former head of a rainforest village in Sarawak, Borneo, said the wood being used for Kuma’s stadium is destroying livelihood for the indigenous Penan people.

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“I would like to forward a message from the Penan to the respective Japanese authorities: In Sarawak, our forests have been logged, and there are very few trees left,” he said.

“Please help us to protect what is left of the rainforest.”

A group of charities had investigated the case prior to the petition and found that tropical plywood was being used as a mould for concrete, according to design and architecture magazine, Dezeen.

It also reported that Switzerland-based Bruno Masner Fund claims that the wood is associated to Malaysian logging giant, Shin Yang, which has been accused of human-rights violations, illegal logging and rainforest destruction.

Toyko 2020’s vision has been to host the greenest games to date, however the present case threatens that vision.

Kuma’s design was selected to replace Zaha Hadid’s original design after the Japanese government announced that it was too expensive to build.

A Sustainability Sourcing Code for Timber was published by the Olympics authorities as part of its wood sourcing strategy.

Although one of the charities behind the report, Rainforest Action Network said the Olympic provision code exempts the use of cheap plywood as formwork for pouring in-situ concrete, the Olympic authorities deny this claim and insist that all the plywood used in the construction have been ethically sourced.

“The Japan Sport Council (JSC), who are overseeing the construction of the stadium, reported to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee that the plywood in question has been certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, an international non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management,” it said.

“They further confirmed it is in compliance with the legal and sustainability aspects of the sourcing standards set by the Tokyo 2020 organising committee,” it continued.

“The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee remains committed to preparing for and delivering a sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games, and will continue to work closely with the JSC and other related organisations.”

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