Tokyo residents seek to block building of massive data centre

By Mariko Katsumura

TOKYO (Reuters) - A group of residents in Tokyo said on Wednesday they were aiming to block construction of a massive logistics and data centre planned by Singaporean developer GLP, in a worrying sign for businesses looking to Japan to meet growing demand.

The petition by more than 220 residents of Akishima city in western Tokyo follows a successful bid in December in Nagareyama city to quash a similar data-centre plan.

The Akishima residents were concerned the centre would threaten wildlife, cause pollution and a spike in electricity usage, and drain its water supply which comes solely from groundwater.

They filed a petition to audit the urban planning procedure that approved GLP's 3.63-million-megawatt data centre, which GLP estimated would likely emit about 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

"One company will be responsible for ruining Akishima. That's what this development is," Yuji Ohtake, a representative of the residents' group, told a press conference.

Global tech firms such as Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle also have plans to build data centres in Japan.

The residents estimated that 3,000 of 4,800 trees on the site would have to be cut down, threatening the area's Eurasian goshawk birds and badgers.

"It's an unbelievably negligent plan," said representative Hiroyuki Hasegawa.

The group was considering filing for arbitration to steer GLP towards reconsidering its plan, in which it is set to commence building in February, with completion by early 2029.

GLP declined to comment on the residents' action.

Japan's data centre market is expected to grow 10.8% in 2027 and 7.6% in 2028 amid demand from digital transformation and cloud services, according to real estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle.

In 2023, Japan saw a record 112 billion yen ($694 million) direct investment into data centre real estate, JLL's data showed.

Local opposition has also been growing over the construction of a data centre in Kashiwa city near Tokyo.

($1 = 161.3600 yen)

(Reporting by Mariko Katsumura, additional reporting by Sam Nussey, Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Bernadette Baum)