The governors of Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga and Mie prefectures have called on the government to cancel its plan to build a dam on the Daido River, part of the Yodo River system, in Shiga Prefecture. They said its priority is low and that the dam should not be included in a development program to construct four dams for the river system over the next 30 years. This is the first time that governors of prefectures through which upper and lower reaches of a river system flow have jointly opposed the construction of a dam.

The river law requires the central government to hear the opinions of local governments. Although the governors’ opinion is not legally binding, their opposition has weight and is likely to help accelerate opposition to dam construction in other areas. In September, the Kumamoto governor called for cancellation of a plan to build a dam on the Kawabe River.

A government study to build a multipurpose dam on the Daido River started in 1968, and a basic construction plan was made public in 1991. The central government froze the plan in 2005 because of low demand for water from the dam reservoir, however, in June 2007 it revived the plan by limiting the dam’s function to flood control. In April 2008, an advisory committee for the infrastructure ministry’s Kinki Regional Development Bureau made clear its opposition to the plan to construct the four dams by examining their usefulness and impact on the environment. But in June 2008, the bureau worked out a plan to push through the dam construction.

As for the three other dams besides the Daido dam, the governors agreed to accept redevelopment of one and construction of another but withheld judgment on the third. But their opposition to the Daido dam shows not only their opposition to what they regard as an unnecessary project but also their push for greater decentralization.

The government should be aware that the governors take issue with the fact that the bureau worked out the plan while ignoring the committee’s opinion and that they do not want to fall victim to bureaucratic inertia on public works projects.

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