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Declaration of "No More Dams"


A concrete dam costing dozens of billions of yen causes such a huge burden on our global environment it cannot be ignored. Furthermore, future refurbishment of dams would necessitate the removal of a huge volume of transported deposit, which would also require a tremendous expenditure of several billions of yen.

Construction of multi-purpose dams that are considered effective for both flood control and water-utilization is 50% funded by the national government, even though the dam project is administered by the local authority. The remaining 50% should be funded by the local government. However, of the share born by the local government, 95% can be funded by issued bonds; in other words, 95% of the cost born by the local authority can be covered by a sort of debt. Even 66% of that debt will be financed by the national government as grants-in-aid, when the time comes to redeem the bond. Therefore, approximately 80% of the dam construction cost will be eventually paid out of the National Treasury. However, we should not choose to build a dam simply because a firm national subsidy can be obtained for its construction.

Should the expenses for river improvements become greater than those for dam construction, I would attach greater importance to the value of rivers, lakes and marshes, as assets to be preserved for future generations in the 100 or 200 years to come. Located along the backbone of Japan, Nagano Prefecture embraces a number of water sources. In the long view, we should avoid constructing dams as much as possible in such areas.

Since I assumed the office of the governor, I have studied the details of some dam projects and have come to hold the convictions detailed above. This is the basic principle of the Tanaka administration. I would like to establish this idea as the “Nagano model,” and transmit the principle throughout Japan.

In light of the above, I consider it possible to manage the Shimosuwa case without relying on dam construction both in terms of flood control and irrigation, since the construction has not yet gotten underway. Therefore, I will halt the ongoing construction project for Shimosuwa Dam, and stipulate instead a combined approach of raising riverbanks and dredging for flood control. As for irrigation, the prefecture, in cooperation with Okaya City, will study every possibility for seeking alternate water sources in rivers and groundwater, in addition to reviewing water supply-demand plans, irrigation rights and so on.

The prefectural government needs to give the best possible consideration to the landowner whose land was to have been purchased by the prefecture for the construction of the dam. We would like to purchase the land as scheduled from prefectural coffers and preserve the area. Hereafter, we will communicate this policy directly to the prefectural assembly as well as to the municipalities concerned and local citizens as soon as possible. I hope that this will stimulate nation-wide debate on what flood control systems should be like.

February 20, 2001

Yasuo Tanaka

Governor of Nagano Prefecture


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