• Kyodo

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The municipal government of Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, is encouraging the removal of smokestacks that have outlived their usefulness by subsidizing demolition costs, in a bid to provide a better view of Mount Fuji.

The city is located at the foot of Japan’s highest peak, which people can see while passing by on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line or the Tomei Expressway.

But Fuji is also an industrial center with about 1,000 operational factories, including chemical and paper-making plants.

During the rapid economic growth period through the 1970s, many factories built tall chimneys to release smoke high in the atmosphere in an effort to mitigate serious air pollution.

As a result, more than 100 smokestacks taller than 20 meters remain in the city today, obstructing the view of the 3,776-meter mountain.

Along with the Shizuoka Prefectural Government, the city is subsidizing a third of the cost, up to 5 million yen, of removing smokestacks that are no longer needed, officials said.

Under the plan, the city and prefecture plan to remove 16 smokestacks in five years starting in fiscal 2002, and four have been already demolished, they said.

In addition, the municipal government is urging factories to use natural gas instead of fossil fuels such as oil by subsidizing such transitions. Changing fuels will also reduce hazardous emissions and thus make tall smokestacks unnecessary, the officials said.

Another merit of the project is to remove old smokestacks that could fall down in the event of a major earthquake, according to the officials.

Seismologists say a magnitude-8 quake could hit the region.

Yukio Akiyama, head of the city planning section, said, “I want to try to ensure that everyone can enjoy the best view of Mount Fuji.”

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