Concerned lawmakers and citizen representatives met with Construction Minister Tsutomu Kawara on Friday to submit a written request urging the government to rethink plans for a dam on Tokushima Prefecture’s Yoshino River.
Spurred to action by the approval of the project earlier in the week by a ministry advisory committee, two representatives of the Diet Members’ Association for Mechanism for Public Works Review and two representatives from citizens’ groups met with Kawara for about 30 minutes.
In the request addressed to the minister, citizens and lawmakers criticized the deliberation process as one-sided and showing a blatant disregard for public opinion.
“We told (the minister) that it is important to work for a solution which satisfies the people and that the current plan does not reflect the views of the people,” said Masayoshi Himeno, director of Yoshino Symposium, a citizen’ group against the project. “We also emphasized the importance of the environmental component of the project.”
A recent survey of riverside residents showed that more than 60 percent feel that more debate is necessary, they said in the request submitted to the minister. Initially established in September 1995 to reflect citizens’ opinion, the deliberation committee’s support for the plan will be a major factor in the government’s decision to go pursue or review the project.
“Ultimately it is a decision the Construction Ministry will have to make. Since we just accepted the document today and haven’t reviewed it, I really can’t comment,” said Tetsutaro Sumi, assistant director of the ministry’s river development division.
The project in dispute calls for razing Daijuzeki, a nearly 250-year-old barrier, and building a dam that would also function as a bridge and feature adjustable gates for flood control purposes.
However, an increasing number of citizens, in Tokushima Prefecture and around the nation, see the 100 billion-yen plus project as a potential waste of tax money and are concerned that it will negatively impact the environment.
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