Mayor re-elected on antidam policy

The incumbent mayor of Kito, Tokushima Prefecture, was re-elected Apr. 1 on a platform of continued resistance to the Construction Ministry’s plan to dam a river running through the village.

Megumi Fujita was unopposed in the election. Fujita has made opposition to the ministry’s Hosogawauchi Dam project the central pillar of his administration, and his re-election will provide a boost to the village’s resistance movement. It will also further aggravate the Construction Ministry and the prefectural government, both of whom are searching for a way to end the gridlock and proceed with the dam project.

Fujita, 57, was first elected in 1993 after the mayor at that time resigned due to a disagreement over how to resolve the dam issue. In 1994, he enacted a local ordinance providing specific measures for blocking the project, such as requiring landowners to notify the mayor when they sell land in or around the dam construction site.

In 1995, the ministry established deliberation committees to facilitate public works projects along rivers in various parts of the country. However, Fujita refused to join a committee to deliberate the Kito dam project on the grounds that his assumption of a position on the committee would give the project an official seal of approval. Thus the committee for the Kito dam project is the only committee yet to be established.

Meanwhile, a cake factory went into operation in March last year with public and private investment as part of the local government’s efforts to reduce its dependence on the dam project. The construction plan, made public in 1971, has been a point of contention in the village ever since. The dam is designed to help control flooding and irrigation, and is capable of storing 6,800 tons of water. Its construction, however, would result in the submergence of around 150 hectares of forest land and 30 homes.