• Kyodo

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An injunction barring the government from opening the floodgates in the Isahaya Bay dike has been upheld, further delaying a plan to examine whether the land reclamation project is hurting local fishing.

The Nagasaki District Court on Tuesday rejected the central government’s objection to the injunction, while local farmers sought to keep the sluice gates closed amid fears seawater could damage their produce.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, which oversees the project, immediately appealed the decision to the Fukuoka High Court.

The decision means the central government continues to face contradictory orders from courts, after the Fukuoka High Court in 2010 ordered it to open the gates, and the Nagasaki court in 2013 barred it from opening them by issuing the injunction.

The high court ruling was finalized shortly after it was handed down, as the Democratic Party of Japan-led government decided not to appeal. In a response to the ruling, local farmers filed for the district court injunction.

The latest trial centered on whether opening the gates is a pressing matter, whether the government can prevent damage from seawater if it opens the gates, and whether it is unlawful to open the gates.

In Tuesday’s decision, presiding Judge Takayuki Matsubasa said the opening of the floodgates could cause serious damage to farmland, affecting the livelihood of farmers, and that the “fishing environment would not necessarily be improved even if the gates were opened.”

The government has been paying ¥900,000 a day to 45 local fishermen since earlier this year as a penalty for not opening the gates. Together with an earlier penalty, the government has doled out more than ¥300 million.

The floodgates have been shut since 1997 as part of the public works project that has created around 670 hectares of farmland and a 2,600-hectare reservoir at a cost of ¥253.3 billion. Full-fledged farming of the reclaimed land began in 2008.

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