「鞆の浦」判決 景観保護と地域振興の両立を

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Oct. 3, 2009)
Save Tomonoura beauty, boost local economy
「鞆の浦」判決 景観保護と地域振興の両立を(10月3日付・読売社説)

The Hiroshima District Court on Thursday handed down a ruling that acknowledged local residents' right to benefit from the beauty of a precious landscape.

The court ordered Hiroshima Gov. Yuzan Fujita not to issue a license for a prefectural and municipal project to reclaim a scenic shore in the Tomonoura area of Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture.

The magnificent landscape of Tomonoura inspired ancient poems featured in the Manyoshu, an anthology of classical poetry. It also was a key junction in the Seto Inland Sea that prospered as a port for ships waiting for the right tide to sail. Several buildings from the Edo period (1603-1867) have been preserved in the area.

The picturesque bay also is known as the place where renowned director Hayao Miyazaki stayed for two months to develop ideas for his 2008 animated film "Gake no Ue no Ponyo" (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea).

The court acknowledged that the Tomonoura area is an asset belonging to the Japanese people and has historical and cultural value. The court also pointed out that the daily benefits local residents receive from the scenery might be seriously damaged if the area is reclaimed.


Local community split

We think it was appropriate that the court carefully weighed the importance of preserving the landscape against the need to reclaim land and build a bridge in the area before deciding in favor of the former. This is the first time that a court has ordered the suspension of a public works project before it had begun on the grounds that a landscape should be preserved.

The ruling likely will influence the development of tourist spots in the future.

In 2006, the Supreme Court rejected a demand by residents living near a condominium in Kunitachi, Tokyo, that a real estate developer remove the upper floors of the building because they spoiled the local scenery. However, it also stated that local residents have the right to benefit from an attractive neighborhood and that this right should be protected. The top court's view apparently influenced the latest ruling.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that many streets in the Tomonoura area are too narrow for cars to pass and are often jammed with tourist vehicles. The community's population is decreasing and graying.

The reclamation project aimed to revitalize the local community by building a bypass bridge spanning Tomoko port to resolve the traffic problem and by reclaiming the local shore to build a ferry pier and a parking lot for tourists' vehicles.

A group of residents filed this suit, but many other residents supported the project, which they felt would make their daily lives more convenient. A rift has reportedly emerged in the community between proponents and opponents of the project.


Time for Plan B

The Hiroshima governor applied to the central government in June last year for approval to issue a reclamation license. But then Construction and Transport Minster Kazuyoshi Kaneko demurred on the matter, saying the prefectural government should first secure the public's consent. The license had yet to be approved when there was a change in government in late August.

New Transport and Construction Minister Seiji Maehara said he will decide what action to take after seeing how higher courts rule on the case.

There reportedly is an alternative plan to build a tunnel through the mountains in the area instead of building a bridge across the bay. Preserving a beautiful landscape while revitalizing a community at the same time is no easy task, but the prefectural and municipal governments may need to reconsider their development plan to achieve this goal.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 3, 2009)
(2009年10月3日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-10-03 11:34 | 英字新聞

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