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HIROSHIMA — The head of the International Council on Monuments and Sites is critical of a plan to build a bridge on a picturesque site in the Seto Inland Sea that was a setting for the popular animated cartoon “Gakeno Ueno Ponyo.”

The plan being pushed by the Hiroshima Prefectural Government and others is “tantamount to tearing out important pages of a book,” said ICOMOS President Gustavo Araoz, who recently inspected Tomonoura in Fukuyama in the southeastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture.

It covers a harbor and surrounding sea areas at the southern tip of the Numakuma Peninsula. Academy Award-winning animated film director Hayao Miyazaki was inspired by Tomonoura to shoot his latest animated film, “Gakeno Ueno Ponyo” (“Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea”).

Araoz, who has been studying the preservation of buildings, said that once the landfill and bridge construction plan is carried out, the site will not be able to regain its original natural beauty.

ICOMOS is an international nongovernmental organization that works for the conservation of cultural heritage sites around the world. Araoz visited Tomonoura, regarded as a world heritage class location, on Nov. 4 on his own after attending a symposium held in Ise, Mie Prefecture.

Describing Tomonoura as a site connected to the past and future, Araoz said the town, its people and the sea combine to make the site valuable.

Araoz, a native of Cuba who fled to the United States, was elected head of ICOMOS at its general meeting last autumn. The meeting passed a resolution for a second time recommending that those concerned drop the plan.

The council sent a copy of the resolution in November last year to Kazuyoshi Kaneko, then minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.

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