Nagano cancels contract for wasteful dam construction

Tanaka Yasuo, the winner of the recent gubernatorial election in Nagano Prefecture with overwhelming support, canceled the contract with a venture group for constructing a dam on the Asakawa River in Nagano City. The step was taken on September 25 to implement his public pledges that Nagano needs no new dams.

Residents along the Asakawa basin raised objection to the project for constructing the Asakawa Dam (costing about 40 billion yen 3.33 billion dollars) because landslides have frequently occurred around the dam's construction site. Any new dam will be dangerous and wasteful, they insisted.

Governor Tanaka accepted their complaint and published a declaration in February 2001 that "Nagano needs no more large-scale dams."

Members of the Nagano Prefectural Assembly (except Japanese Communist Party members) tried to get the governor retract the policy, but failed. Even a report issued by a panel, which included many pro-dam members, regarded dam plans at Asakawa and Shimo-Suwa as unnecessary.

Then, anti-Tanaka forces unanimously adopted a non-confidence motion in Governor Tanaka, followed by the gubernatorial election in summer.

The Association to Block Construction of Asakawa Dam chair welcomed Tanaka's step, stressing that their eight years' struggle has achieved the victory.

He said, "Nagano is convinced that flood control does not require dams. Now is the time for Nagano's call to prevail across the country so that wasteful state policy of constructing dams be stopped." (end)