A JAPANESE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ministry is asking for the withdrawal of fishing rights in a river in Kumamoto Prefecture, so that a dam project can move ahead.

An association for the promotion of the dam project, comprising 19 municipalities, has already adopted a resolution that supports the planned expropriation of fishing rights.

The dam, first conceived in 1966, has been on hold due to opposition from local fishermen who have continually rejected government offers of compensation. On 29 November 2001, the local fishermen rejected the government’s offer of US$12.5M, including the development of new fishing areas for the loss of a 1.7km section of the Kawabe river, where the dam is to be located.

The construction of the dam was scheduled to start during the fiscal year 2001 and completed in 2008. However, the start has been delayed due to the opposition from the fishermen, although the dam has the support of the villagers of Itsuki and Sagara, which will be submerged if the dam is built. The reservoir created by the 107.5m high Kawabegawa dam will submerge 391ha.

As part of the preliminary construction for the main project, construction of a diversion tunnel was completed in July 1999.

Nationally in Japan, opposition has been building against dam projects due to environmental activism. Since 1995, 90 dam projects have either been scrapped completely or suspended until further environmental impact assessment studies are completed.