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Friday, March 25, 2011

Prince hotel spared wrecking ball to house evacuees


Staff writer

The Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka, once one of the trendiest hotels in Japan and set to close at the end of March, announced Thursday that it will remain open to accommodate refugees made homeless by the March 11 earthquake and radiation leaks at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In collaboration with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the hotel will put up about 1,600 evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture, where the troubled nuclear power plant is located, in 700 rooms, said Isao Okumura, head of the metropolitan government's private housing division. The hotel will be available to the evacuees from sometime in April through the end of June, he said.

The decision was initiated by Prince Hotels Inc., according to Okumura.

Details such as whether to provide food and blankets will be decided soon, said Okumura. It hasn't been decided yet who is eligible to stay at the hotel and who will help out the evacuees, he added.

The hotel, located in the Akasaka district of Chiyoda Ward, was a popular dating spot during the bubble economy years of the late 1980s.

News reporters would also haunt the 55-year-old hotel hoping to collar Liberal Democratic Party politicians. An LDP faction, once led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, had its main office and meeting room at the hotel.

Dating to 1955, a 40-story annex designed by architect Kenzo Tange was added in 1983.

Faced with aging facilities and increasing competition from international hotel chains, operator Seibu Holdings decided to redevelop the compound. Demolition work is scheduled to begin after June.



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