• Kyodo

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The land ministry will withdraw an application filed with a Kumamoto prefectural panel to revoke fishing rights at the planned site of a state dam on the Kawabe River, a ministry official said Thursday.

The move will put the construction project, first announced in 1966, back on the drawing board and authorities might have to consider whether it is still necessary to press forward with the dam amid all the setbacks.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, which still claims the dam is needed for water control, would have to start its application process from the beginning if it refiles for the fishing rights to be revoked.

The dam was to have served a number of purposes.

The land ministry wanted it for flood control, while the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry eyed it as part of a water-use plan.

However, the 265 billion yen project has been delayed by legal battles with local residents and fishermen who would be affected by the dam.

While related projects — including construction of roads and substitute housing for residents to be moved — are already under way, work on the dam itself has not yet begun as the fishing-rights issue has not been resolved.

The decision to drop the application, filed in 2001 with the Kumamoto prefectural expropriation committee, came after the farm ministry told the land ministry Tuesday it could not compile new water-use plans.

The panel had earlier asked the farm ministry to submit new water-use plans following a high court ruling in 2003 that nullified its initial water-use blueprint, saying the compiling process was illegal. The central government did not appeal the high court ruling.

On Aug. 29, the panel recommended the land ministry drop the application to revoke fishing rights and asked it to respond by Sept. 22.

The panel also said it would hold a vote on whether to reject the application if the land ministry ignored the recommendation.

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