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Local mayor 'fundamentally opposed' to Mt. Fuji rail line plans

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

KOFU -- The mayor of a city at the foot of Mount Fuji has expressed strong opposition to Yamanashi Prefecture's proposed Mount Fuji railway, after the plan received approval by a review committee.

    The plan, promoted by the prefecture, envisions a next-generation streetcar line being installed on the Fuji Subaru Line toll road from the foot of the mountain in the prefecture west of Tokyo to Mount Fuji's fifth station.

    At a regular press conference on Feb. 10, Shigeru Horiuchi, mayor of the prefectural city of Fujiyoshida, said he was skeptical of the line's necessity, and added, "I am fundamentally opposed to it."

    Horiuchi pointed out that the plan "doesn't contain any instructions on what to do in a natural disaster." Noting that Mount Fuji's surface is soft volcanic rock, and that rockfalls are increasing annually, the mayor pointed out, "This isn't like a mountain railway running on a bedrock foundation on a peak in Europe; isn't it going to be quite challenging to build a railway line on Mount Fuji?" He went on, "We have an obligation to protect Mount Fuji without spoiling it."

    Referring to the railway plan's stated goal of reducing climber numbers and vehicle exhaust, Horiuchi explained that efforts to switch to hybrid and electric tour buses are making progress.

    "If we can combine this with the rules we have on personal car use, we can control climber numbers and stop emissions. I doubt whether there is a real need here (to build a railway line)," he said.

    (Japanese original by Satoru Yamamoto, Kofu Bureau)

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