Hiroshima to ax plans for altering scenic port

JIJI

Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki will scrap a controversial waterfront reclamation project in Tomonoura to preserve the scenic port, according to sources.

Plans to build a bridge for a new road, which would mar the area’s beautiful coastline, are expected to be replaced with new designs for a mountainside tunnel.

The governor is expected to officially announce the move as early as Monday after talks with Fukuyama Mayor Akira Hada, whose municipality administers the area of Tomonoura, the sources said.

The location is known for its magnificent views and historic port facilities, including a 17th-century stone lighthouse. It has drawn increased attention since serving as the setting for the hit 2008 animated film “Gake no Ue no Ponyo” (“Ponyo on the Cliff”), directed by “anime” legend Hayao Miyazaki.

Prefectural authorities first drafted the project in 1983 to ease congestion on Tomonoura’s narrow roads, and the plan moved into the final approval stage in 2007.

However, conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the prefecture to block the reclamation work and the Hiroshima District Court ordered a suspension in October 2009, ruling that preserving the area is in the public interest.

The prefectural government challenged the decision but Gov. Yuzaki, who took office after an appeal was filed, launched a new review and sponsored talks between the project’s backers and opponents.