"Nisshoken". The right to have sunshine fall upon one's house, to light up the windows, to dry laundry and air quilts and futons in, to live and eat and walk in.

This has become more and more of an issue in Japan with the construction of ever-higher buildings, especially those that loom over older and smaller residences.

Many years ago, when the Toronto Eaton Centre was being built, there were battles over sunshine.

The razing of blocks and blocks of downtown buildings, regular buildings, was going to have a detrimental effect upon the Trinity United Church.

This church has been in downtown Toronto since before it was a downtown. A place where residents and others could worship, be married, and simply find a place of silence in the noisy city.

Original plans for the Eaton Center called for the church to be in darkness most of the day. It just couldn't be helped. The church was just going to have to make do with being encased in this first of the downtown superblocks.

There were sit-ins, demonstrations, representations to City, and Metro Council (long before the creation of the megacity).

The results? A passageway would be maintained through the Eaton Center to an inner courtyard, where the church would reside. And sunshine would be guaranteed.

Years later, the right of passage through the Eaton Center is routinely abrogated when it is convenient for the Center and its owners. And the last time I was there, there did not seem to be the sunshine that was guaranteed

On a more personal note, I organized poetry readings there during lunchtimes one summer. I, and the poets I represented, wanted to make use of the silence of the space--it was ideal for readings.

However, that just happened to be the summer of demolition in preparation for the building of the new superstructure. Yes, we got some silence, and alot of dust, between the hours of 12 noon and one o'clock exactly.

The right to sunshine and the right to silence has not only been an issue in Japan,and will continue not to be much respected in the new economy--same as the old economy.

O yes, I wrote a poem about the underworld there.

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