The Hiroshima District Court on Oct. 1 ordered Hiroshima Gov. Yuzan Fujita not to issue a license sought by the prefectural and Fukuyama city governments to reclaim a portion of a bay in the scenic Tomonoura area for by-pass bridge construction. This is an epoch-making ruling. It has blocked a large public works project and asserted that the residents’ right to benefit from the beautiful scenery deserves the protection of the law.

Fukuyama’s Tomonoura area, with low mountains and a commanding view of islets in the Inland Sea, is a core part of one of Japan’s first national parks. It has harbor facilities and buildings from the Edo period (1603-1867). A poem by Otomo-no-Tabito, who was touched by Tomonoura’s beautiful landscape, is included in “Manyoshu,” a mid-8th century collection of some 4,500 ancient poems.

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