KOFU, YAMANASHI PREF. – The governor of Yamanashi Prefecture said Wednesday he will have a railway plan drawn up within two years to connect the bottom and the fifth station of Mount Fuji, the nation’s highest mountain.
Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki, who was elected in January, said he will set up a panel of experts, possibly in late June, to study the details of the plan including the route and its impact on the economy and environment.
Railway plans for the 3,776-meter volcanic mountain have been discussed in the past but never materialized, partly due to concerns about the potential impact on the environment caused by construction. At present, visitors can only get to the fifth station by bus or car.
“I pledged to build a railway on Mount Fuji during the election campaign (in January) and the idea won wide public support,” Nagasaki said after a meeting on the plan was held in Tokyo. “I will do my best to carry out my promise.”
In the meeting attended by Masanori Aoyagi, former head of the Cultural Affairs Agency, Toshitsugu Fujii, volcanologist and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and others, many participants supported the idea saying it would be convenient to use the train to evacuate many people in case of a volcanic eruption.
Nagasaki had said in his election pledge the railway project would help conserve the environment and increase the number of tourists during the winter season.
In 2013, Mount Fuji was designated as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO as an “object of pilgrimages” that has “inspired artists and poets.”