Beyond Business
Inspired by Manhattan, Tokyo turns Roppongi into a gleaming cultural as
well as economic center.


Midtown has already stolen some of the cachet away from Roppongi Hills.
Soon after its opening, the Hills earned a reputation as the home for
"the winners" like Goldman Sachs and hot young companies. That power
image was severely tarnished, however, by the arrests early last year of
a maverick "new economy" CEO and a high-profile activist fund operator,
on separate charges. Presumably as a result, some tenants at Midtown
say, the screening process for admittance was tightened. Yahoo Japan
Co., a key tenant, moved part of its office from the Hills to Midtown,
prompting speculation that the company was trying to disassociate from
the scandals in the Hills. (Yahoo Japan Co. denies such speculation,
saying only that it needed more office space. In any case, Shoji Tanaka,
a Tokyo real-estate appraiser, says there is no shortage of tenants at
Roppongi Hills).

The emergence of Tokyo Midtown underscores Japan's economic revival.
When a consortium led by Mitsui Fudosan bought the vast property hoping
to reignite Tokyo, Japan was still mired in deflation and skepticism
abounded. In just five years, however, a posh new Ritz-Carlton hotel
rose on the land and the area's property prices increased sixfold. Some
property markets are now back to levels that are worrying even some
bears. Japan's Land Agency announced that in March property prices
nationwide—not just in urban areas—rose for the first time in 16 years.
Some urban development experts now expect that Midtown will restore
growth without blowing a new price bubble. And they are hoping that a
new Manhattan of Tokyo will spur changes in the face of the Tokyo
landscape to make it as diverse as the real Manhattan is.