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Representatives from Tokushima Prefecture and citizens opposing plans for a dam on the Yoshino River met Tuesday in Tokyo for discussions with Construction Ministry officials.

In a gathering moderated by representatives of the Diet Members’ Association for a Mechanism for Public Works Review, the citizens said they question whether the dam is safe, environmentally sound or even necessary.

Ministry representatives explained that their data indicate the river’s banks may not be able to withstand a rise in river volume brought about by heavy rains and that building the dam is in the best interests of local residents. “This project is increasingly gaining national attention, and with these talks, the issue has been raised to a new level,” said Masayoshi Himeno, director of Yoshino Symposium, a citizen’s group against the project.

The plan calls for the razing of Daijuzeki, a nearly 250-year-old concrete barrier, and construction of a 104 billion yen dam for purposes of flood control, as well as securing irrigation and tap water. “Similar projects constructed on the Tone and Nagara rivers have created various problems, from sludge buildup to a massive influx of algae. It worries me that the Construction Ministry is not supplying that data for comparison,” said Hiroyoshi Ishi, director of Tokushima Prefecture’s Nature Preservation Association and a biology teacher at Tokushima University.

Late last month, the proposed project was selected as one of the nation’s worst five in a survey of environmental groups and journalists.

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