Sometimes it seems media (or whoever is pulling the strings) is trying to make it seem as if politics doesn't matter. Well, it does. Who you vote for can make a huge difference. Case in point: 4 governors of Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga and Mie are demanding that Japan's central government cancel its controversial plan to build a dam on the Daido River in Shiga prefecture, just northest of Kyoto.
This is an old battle: since 1968, Tokyo has wanted a dam in the green hills of the Kinki district, where occasional flooding causes huge problems to farmers and residents. In a very earnest (and unusually extravagant) attempt to convince English speaking community, the government even made a broshure (available here as a pdf file) to argue for the dam. Greenwash? you be the judge.Shiga prefecture's governor Yukiko Kada put forward a no-dam policy in her successful 2006 election campaign. Worried about the Daido River dam, the governors of Osaka, Kyoto then joined Shiga to work on compiling a joint view in an attempt to decentralize power - and get Tokyo to listen to local concerns.
Osaka's governor Toru Hashimoto wanted to reduce excessive financial burdens on his prefecture, while Kyoto's Keiji Yamada received a report from an expert panel saying there was no urgency for building a dam on the Daido River.
Time to celebrate? Perhaps not yet. But other dam projects in Japan are also on hold. Lake Biwa, a wetland with Ramsar Convention status, needs your vote - if you should be so lucky. And in Kumamoto and Nagano prefectures, local governments are fighting similar dam projects, while the Isahaya Bay reclamation project was stopped earlier this year.
Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp