• Kyodo

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A citizens’ group held a symposium in Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Saturday to muster support for the immediate halt of land reclamation work in Isahaya Bay.

At the symposium, held on the fourth anniversary of the bay’s separation from the Ariake Sea, the group adopted a declaration urging the government to immediately open the dike’s flood gates to restore the wetland to its natural condition.

Takeshi Umehara, head of the Japan PEN Club writers’ association, lashed out at the reclamation project, saying, “The work will not do any good, not only from the standpoint of the use of the land for agricultural purposes, but also regarding disaster prevention.”

“The 21st century is an era when symbiosis with nature is important. With problems surrounding Isahaya Bay as an opening gambit, we have to change our present lifestyle that lends itself toward the destruction of nature, and, for that matter, (we must change) Japanese politics,” he said.

In the ensuing panel discussions, fishing industry workers from Saga, Kumamoto and Nagasaki prefectures reported seeing abnormal conditions, including red tides, that have been occurring since the lock gates were closed four years ago.

Isahaya Bay is part of the Ariake Sea, an almost landlocked body of water surrounded by the prefectures of Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Saga and Fukuoka in the Kyushu region.

The purpose of the reclamation project is to create 1,840 hectares of farmland inside the bay.

In February, the land reclamation project was put on hold after local fishermen and seaweed farmers protested over this year’s poor seaweed crop, which they blamed on worsening water quality caused by the project. The central government has been investigating local water quality and has vowed to open the floodgates.

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