Residents of Minami-Aoyama, one of Tokyo's wealthiest neighborhoods, are fighting plans to build a child guidance office in the district famed for its fashion houses, fancy restaurants and upmarket residences.

Local Minato Ward authorities plan to open a complex in 2021 that will comprise, among other things, a child guidance office and a facility to house impoverished single mother families.

The proposed site will be on a roughly 3,200-square-meter plot purchased from the central government a year ago for about 7.2 billion yen ($64 million).

The plan does not go down well with some residents. Opponents were heard raising their voices during a public hearing held by the ward government in October.

“The site probably does not have to be in Aoyama,” one individual argued. “It potentially could bring down the value of Minato Ward,” said another.

Thirty or so residents opposed to the project set up an “association to think about Aoyama’s future” and called on the ward government to disclose more information.

Some residents are concerned that children in custody could escape from a temporary shelter, while others contend there is no need to construct a closed facility in an area where land prices are high, according to Masatoshi Sato, the association's vice president.

The Child Welfare Law defines a child guidance office as an institution to provide counseling on issues concerning child care. Typically, counselors work for children who have been abused, orphaned, become delinquent or have disabilities. There are 212 child guidance offices around Japan.

When a child under the age of 18, a minor, is deemed to require custody, a child guidance office takes the individual to a temporary shelter, where officials decide whether the child should return to his or her family, live with foster parents or reside in an institution.

Two public hearings were held in Minato Ward in October, and 150 or so people attended. Some residents found no fault with the plan to build a facility for children and families in the district, ward government officials said.

On Twitter, one post labeled opponents as “egoists concerned only about their assets.” Another tweet expressed resentment about media coverage of the issue that had “led nationwide hatred and disdain to be directed at the entire population of Minami-Aoyama.”

Yukiko Hoshi, a division chief in the ward government in charge of the project, explained that local authorities cannot find a plot of land on which to build even child day-care centers.

“We only wanted to secure any suitable site if only one was available, be it in Minami-Aoyama or elsewhere,” she said, adding that a more detailed explanation of the project would be forthcoming.

Minami-Aoyama is not the only district where plans to construct a new child guidance office have faced local opposition.

In 2016, the city of Osaka abandoned plans to establish one in a condominium complex after facing stiff opposition from local residents.

A questionnaire found that only 17 inhabitants were in favor of the plan, 235 were against and three had no opinion. City authorities are pursuing plans to build one elsewhere.

“This essentially is a typical case of NIMBY (not in my backyard),” said Hiroshi Nonami, a Kwansei Gakuin University professor of social psychology.

He noted that people have traditionally opposed massive projects that potentially pose a danger to them, such as nuclear power plants, waste disposal facilities and military bases.

“That phenomenon has now spread to cover ‘livelihood zone’ facilities, such as child guidance offices and child day-care centers,” Nonami said.

“It is difficult to form a consensus when only residents are viewed as the stakeholders. We need residents to understand that the families and children who will be using the guidance offices and day-care centers are also stakeholders in their own right.”

(This article was written by Satoko Tanaka and Misako Yamauchi.)