• Kyodo

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The Nagoya High Court on Thursday rejected an appeal from people seeking to scrap Japan’s largest dam, which is nearly completed after being on the drawing board for 49 years.

The high court supported a December 2003 district court ruling that rejected two lawsuits from area residents to stop construction of the Tokuyama Dam in Ibigawa, Gifu Prefecture.

In the two suits, filed in March 1999 and July 2001, the plaintiffs claimed the government’s estimate for water demand in the area was inflated, and building the dam based on the state’s estimate is unreasonable.

The central and Gifu Prefectural governments argued the dam should be based on long-term needs and the project will cover increasing demand for water.

Presiding Judge Takeaki Noda said water demand was estimated using a standard method at the time of the state’s authorization of the project.

The then construction minister’s decision to authorize the project was not unreasonable, the judge said, adding the minister did not abuse his authority in doing so.

The project, which cost 30 billion yen, has been in the works since 1957 and the main construction was completed last December. The government plans to begin operations in fiscal 2007.

The reservoir behind the dam can store 660 million cu. meters of water, making it larger than the 601-million-cu.-meter-capacity Okutadami Dam on the border of Fukushima and Niigata prefectures.

The plaintiffs wanted the court to revoke a central government permit for the project, issued under the compulsory land acquisition law, and wanted an injunction against Gifu having to pay for construction.

The Nagoya District Court on Dec. 26, 2003, ruled that the project will be of great benefit to the public and that municipalities in the area need to secure more water sources.

The district court made an unusual note in its ruling, urging the government-backed Japan Water Agency to review its water supply projections to resolve the problem of having more water than needed and to pay for the construction.

In December 1998, the government approved the dam project based on the land expropriation law. Gifu agreed to expropriate the land for the dam in May 2001 and ordered the village of Tokuyama vacated to make way for the project.

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