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Preservation panel urges caution over Mount Fuji railway plan

Mount Fuji is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter flying over Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Mainichi)

SHIZUOKA -- An academic panel to discuss preservation of Mount Fuji held an online meeting on Oct. 15 and compiled an interim report urging Yamanashi Prefecture to take measures regarding a plan to establish a railway to consider its possible impact on the peak as a world heritage site.

    The plan, promoted by the Yamanashi Prefectural Government, aims to equip the toll road Fuji Subaru Line connecting the foot of the mountain in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, to the fifth station with a next-generation streetcar. A study group consisting of experts including those in the field of tourism, set up by the prefectural government, is advancing talks for making the plan a reality.

    In the report, the Fujisan World Cultural Heritage Academic Committee included opinions such as: (1) The Japanese government should immediately report to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that a plan to build a railway is now being considered; and that (2) The plan should be examined on the assumption of conducting a heritage impact assessment -- which is required when development projects in the vicinity of a world heritage site are planned.

    In addition, the panel presented seven agenda items to consider, including ones on the natural environment and conservation of the ecosystem.

    During the online meeting, some members voiced skeptical views, with one of them saying, "It (compiling an interim report) doesn't mean we have given the green light to the railway plan," and another suggesting, "It (the plan) must be advanced with care." The panel plans to compile a final report that includes a detailed framework for the impact assessment by February 2021 and submit it to the Yamanashi Prefecture's study group.

    (Japanese original by Yukina Furukawa, Shizuoka Bureau)

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