KYOTO — Experts from Japan and the U.S. on Friday launched a committee to examine Japan’s love affair with dams, hoping to draw on U.S. experiences in reviewing and decommissioning such projects.
The announcement was made during a session of the ongoing World Water Forum.
The U.S.-Japan Dam Committee is chaired jointly by Nagano Prefecture Gov. Yasuo Tanaka, who purses a no-dam policy, and Daniel Beard, a former head of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, who declared in 1994 that the era of big dams is over.
Japan has more than 2,700 dams across the country.
The committee, which has about 10 members, will evaluate dams and their possible removal from administrative, engineering and scientific viewpoints.
“In the U.S., an organization that includes government officials is reviewing and removing dams,” said Reiko Amano, chief of the committee’s secretariat and representative of the Association for Public Works Review, a Gifu-based nongovernment organization. “We want to learn from U.S. experiences and review existing dams in Japan.”
In the U.S., more than 200 dams have been removed over the past decade mainly because of financial, social and environmental costs.
On the other hand, in Japan the idea of not building dams or removing them has yet to become a trend, but some projects are under review.
According to Amano, the first joint conference of the U.S.-Japan committee will take place in September in Gujohachiman, Gifu Prefecture.
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