Japanese Government Challenges Court Order to Freeze Massive Land Reclamation Project
TOKYO The government says it is challenging a district court ruling ordering it to halt a massive land reclamation project in southwestern Japan because it was damaging the environment. In an unusual decision against a public works project, the Saga District Court ordered a freeze last week of the Isahaya Bay project, agreeing with fishers and seaweed farmers that it had disrupted the tides and hurt their livelihoods. The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the government had filed an objection to the ruling, saying there was no scientific evidence linking the project to environmental damage and a decline in the local fishing industry.
The government's objection will be reviewed by the same court, said ministry spokesman Kazumasa Watanabe. If it does not lift the freeze, the government will consider appealing the case to a higher court, he added.
The Saga court had ordered the land reclamation project to be stopped while it considered a lawsuit filed by 800 residents to halt the plan. It was not clear when it would rule on the suit, which was filed in November 2002.
The Isahaya project is designed to reclaim about 700 hectares (1,730 acres) of the bay for farmland. The project also aims to prevent chronic flooding.
The Sierra Club in the United States appealed to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to halt work on the dike two years ago, saying it could endanger wildlife in nearby wetlands.
Isahaya Bay is located in Nagasaki prefecture (state), about 980 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
Source: Associated Press