The Pont des Arts controversy
On 20 November 1996, the mayor of Kyoto, Masumoto Yorikane, called a press conference and made a surprising announcement: right in the centre of town, a footbridge would be built over the Kamogawa, the river running through Kyoto. Taking up a proposal by the visiting French president, Jacques Chirac, whom he had met at a reception in Tokyo the previous night, it would be a replica of the Pont des Arts. This Parisian footbridge spans the Seine in front of the Louvre and, true to its name, connects the famous museum with the Académie des Beaux Arts and other art institutions on the Rive Gauche. The replica would be constructed in celebration of the ‘French Year in Japan’ and the fortieth anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Paris and Kyoto, both scheduled for 1998.