national

Construction of controversial Yamba dam resumes

14 Comments

Construction resumed at the site of the Yamba dam in Gunma Prefecture, five decades in the making.

Work on the dam was halted in 2009 when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power. It was halted as part of dozens of public works projects to be reconsidered.

Blasting work was conducted Thursday to prepare for laying the foundation of the dam's main structure, which will have a 116-meter-tall concrete wall. It is scheduled to be finished in fiscal 2019.

Yamba, which is expected to cost more than 450 billion yen to build, became a national symbol of the big-money projects favored by the old government led by the Liberal Democratic Party.

The dam, about 130 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, was designed to help control flooding after a typhoon ravaged the mountainous area. In the years since, it has grown to include power generation and water provision for four different prefectures plus Tokyo.

When the project first got under way 63 years ago, local residents waged a spirited campaign to save the area, but as the fight dragged on, most people gave up in resignation, accepting cash payouts for their land or resettlement deals.

Some owners of hot spring inns had been hoping to use replacement land provided by the government -- lakeside property near the new reservoir -- to kick-start the local economy.

Around Naganohara, the sights and sounds of construction are everywhere. Highway tunnels have been drilled into the surrounding hills, large bridges in various states of completion crisscross overhead and broad swaths of earth have been blanketed in concrete. New houses for those who will be displaced are being built, and family graveyards have been moved to higher ground.

© Japan Today/AP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
Login to comment

Just goes to show that even in the face of protest and public disdain, these useless and destructive projects WILL eventually continue. There may be a period of lull due to protest but rest assured, big money public work projects will almost always eventually come to pass.

Dreadful as it is...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Porkbarrel works ! Nature stand back. At least it is not Ainu territory.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Alex Kerr:

"The River Bureau has dammed or diverted all but three of Japan's 113 major rivers. The contrast with other advanced industrial nations is stark. Aware of the high environmental cost, the United States has decided in principle not to build any more dams, and has even started removing many that the Army Corps of Engineers constructed years ago. Since 1990 more than 70 major dams have fallen across America, and dozens more are scheduled to be dismantled. Meanwhile, Japan's Construction Ministry plans to add 500 new dams to the more than 2,800 that have already been built."

He goes on to share this exchange between Dr. Miyamoto Masao, a former official in the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), and his boss, regarding ministries all-consuming quest to preserve their budgets year after year:

Miyamoto: "You mean that once something is provided for in the budget you can't stop doing it? Why not?"

MHW official: "In the government offices, as long as a certain amount of money has been budgeted for a certain purpose, it has to be used up."

"Surely it wouldn't matter if there was a little left over."

"It's not that easy. Returning unused money is taboo."

"Why is that?"

"Leftover money gives the Finance Ministry the impression that the project in question is not very important, which makes it a target of budget cuts the following year. The loss of even a single project means a smaller budget for the whole department. The director is going to take a dim view of that, since it affects his career prospects."

https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/k/kerr-dogs.html

3 ( +3 / -0 )

While the arguments against the dam make sense, we should also recognize that fresh water will be the oil of the 21st century. It's a tough call.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I watched a Japanese documentary (NHK?) on the Yamba Dam project sometime after work was halted in 2009. In the documentary they interviewed some older women who lived in the proximity of the project. Apparently, when the project got started the women were out with placards protesting against the project, but as soon as the project was halted they did a flip-flop and were suddenly protesting against suspension of the project.

I had to laugh (and roll my eyes), because the women seemed oblivious to the irony of having made about-face when interviewed about their change of heart.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yamba, which is expected to cost more than 450 billion yen to build, became a national symbol of the big-money projects favored by the old government led by the Liberal Democratic Party.

Welcome to Japan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

rather fresh water and clean domestically produced energy than nuclear or oil based

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Abenomics at works! Lets print money and stimulate ourselves with porkbarrel spending!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

¥450BN, and to think the original brief for all of this was just flood prevention!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just curious, how many of you that think this is a bad idea are against the idea of reactor restarts?

Energy's gotta come from somewhere, this is one way that's clean and provides jobs.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

had to laugh (and roll my eyes), because the women seemed oblivious to the irony of having made about-face when interviewed about their change of heart.

Maybe they were senile? (This is a complement compared to the alternative).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GalapagosnoGairaishu JAN. 23, 2015 - 09:38AM JST

While the arguments against the dam make sense, we should also recognize that fresh water will be the oil of the 21st century. It's a tough call.

Exactly. This is the mistake being made in the USA by removing dams.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jcapan:

The US halted dam building decades ago, huh? That explains the constant water shortages we hear about. But of course the environmentalists just blame that on global warming. All .5 degrees Celsius of it in the last 100 years.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

PandabelleJan. 23, 2015 - 06:21PM JST

Just curious, how many of you that think this is a bad idea are against the idea of reactor restarts?

Energy's gotta come from somewhere, this is one way that's clean and provides jobs.

The dam has nothing to do with providing electricity. It is planed to provide water and flood control. However the water demand in Greater Tokyo Area is shrinking for the last 10 years. Noone needs additional water. It is just a project to provide cash to the overblown construction industry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites