Governors fight dam plan

Four prefectural chiefs band together against Daido River project

Kyodo

The governors of Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga and Mie demanded Tuesday that the central government cancel its plan to build a dam on the Daido River in Shiga Prefecture.

The four governors said after meeting in Wakayama that they do not see a need for the dam to be part of a river development project that includes constructing four dams on the Yodo River system over the next 30 years.

It is the first time governors of the prefectures have jointly expressed opposition to the plan to build the Daido River Dam.

The opinions of Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto, Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada, Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada and Mie Gov. Akihiko Noro are not legally binding, but they will likely make it difficult for the government to keep the Daido dam as part of the project.

The move against the dam, coupled with Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima’s opposition expressed in September to a government plan to build a dam on the Kawabe River in Kumamoto Prefecture, is expected to provide a boost to sentiment against dams in other parts of Japan.

Such opposition have gained momentum since the early 2000s. In 2001, Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka issued an dam declaration against dams, saying they damage the environment. He went on to suspend projects to build two dams in his mountainous prefecture.

The Kinki Regional Development Bureau, part of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, announced in June a proposal for the river development project and included in it the existing plans for building four dams.

Based on the river law, the bureau had asked for the opinions of governors of prefectures that would be affected by the plan, such as having to share the cost.

Concerning the Daido River dam, the governors of Osaka, Kyoto and Shiga took the lead in working on compiling a joint view in an attempt to decentralize power.

Osaka’s Hashimoto wanted to reduce excessive financial burdens on his prefecture, Kyoto’s Yamada received a report from an expert panel saying there was no urgency for building a dam on the Daido River, while Shiga’s Kada put forward a no-dam policy in her successful 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

Of the other three dams in the project, the four governors agreed to accept plans to redevelop the Amagase dam in Kyoto Prefecture and to build the Kawakami dam in Mie Prefecture.

They decided to withhold judgment concerning the Niu dam in Shiga Prefecture because costs and details of the construction plan have not been made clear.

The central government began a study on building a multipurpose dam on the Daido in 1968 and announced a basic construction plan in 1991. But it said in 2005 that it has discontinued construction due to reduced water demand.

Last year, the government resumed the plan, saying the dam will be designed exclusively for flood control and will have a reservoir capacity of 21.9 million cu. meters.

Under the plan, Osaka Prefecture must pay ¥23 billion in project expenses, Kyoto Prefecture ¥13.5 billion and Shiga Prefecture ¥1.4 billion to make up about one-third of the total operating cost of ¥108 billion.