The ruling Democratic Party of Japan on Saturday finalized its decision to approve the restart of the controversial Yamba dam construction project in Gunma Prefecture.
The project was halted in 2009 after the DPJ came to power. It was about 70% finished in terms of budget, but construction on the dam itself had yet to begin. It was to be completed by mid-2016.
It was one of the first projects to be scrapped by then Land and Infrastructure Minister Seiji Maehara as part of the DPJ's election manifesto pledge to cut dozens of public works projects considered wasteful.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with cabinet ministers to finalize the restart of the project and agreed that the fiscal 2012 budget will be adjusted accordingly.
The land ministry said it will allocate 1.8 billion yen to build storage facilities for construction materials and 12 billion yen to improve roads and other infrastructure near the dam, NHK reported.
The Yamba dam was considered a symbol of the big-money projects favored by successive governments led by the Liberal Democratic Party for decades during which billions of yen were pumped into rural areas for bridges, dams and airports, many of which get little use.
The freeze of the project sparked an outcry from local government officials and residents who had construction-related jobs. Many other residents had to give up their land and move family graves, while others had to relocate their businesses.
Located about 130 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, the dam is designed to help control flooding, as well as include power generation and water provision for four different prefectures plus Tokyo.© Japan Today