[Japanese Domestic Policy on Dam Projects]

Concerning on "Decision-Making Process", "Revaluation", "Public Participation" and "Democratic Process"

Dam/Estuary Deliberation Committee

Dam/Estuary Deliberation Committees were notified to be established by the Construction Ministry of Japan in July, 1995 after repeated controversy, dispute and accusation on their Nagara River Estuary project, for which the final decision for its operation was made on May 22, 1995.

The Ministry has intended to implement the Committees as the way to review the respective dam projects in Japan which they have not been able to be completed construction works and/or some related projects after years of planning due to the change of social needs or strong protest among the residents and the interested.

Citizen groups have strongly protested against the implementation of the Committees, saying "The Committees are for the Ministry to pretend to go through democratic decision making process. The Committee is nothing but an alibi and disguise of public participation and information disclosure"

According to the notification sent by the Construction Ministry to each local Construction Bureau, the committees need to be established in accordance with the following guideline.
(1)Committee members are chosen by the Governor of each Prefecture where each project is based.
(2)Committee members are consisted of mayors and assembly chairpersons of multiple reparian towns and villages and academics to represent the residents.
(3)As a principle, all the committee should be open to the public.
(4)The Ministry decide whether they "cancel" or "modify" or "proceed" respective projects based on the decisions made by each Committee.

Citizens analyze and point out the facts that (1) All the Governors are in favor of dam constructions, so they are most likely to choose members who support dam construction. (2)Except for one project, all the mayors and chairpersons are pro dam constructions. Selected academics do not have profound knowledge or interest in dam or water management. (3)Out of 13 committees established for different dam projects, 10 committees are exclusively open to the Government Press Club Member. (4)Many of the committees announced projects should be "proceeded as planed" based one side information provided by the Construction Ministry. One of the projects was clearly assumed by citizens group to be canceled before

An interesting fact is;
Mayor and Assembly Chairman of Kitou Village, Tokushima Prefecture, whose central part will be sunk under the water if the dam is constructed, are both against the Hosogouchi Dam Project and have rejected to join the Hosogouchi Dam Committee up to now, saying "If we attend the Committee, it will give the Construction Ministry a chance to say that we participated in the deliberation but unfortunately the committee as a whole made a decision to eto proceed the planf. We will not let it happen by attending it." Without their participation, the Committee has not been established.

Atsuko Masano@atsukom@mrj.biglobe.ne.jp