Japan: River improvement plan created with the participation of Tama River residents (#303)
The Tama River Basin is located in the southwest of the capital region and has been. Being one of the rare spaces richly endowed with nature, the Tama River contributes greatly to the formation of a rich socioeconomic base in the capital region. The river sees about 20 million visitors annually, and its riverside is used by many civic groups for various activities. The Tama River is thus an early presenter of a societyriver relationship. Nevertheless, the rapid urbanization of the Tama river basin and its intensive utilization has also brought stress on the water use for public service, agriculture, industry, and power generation. The 1997 amendment of the River Law stipulated that new river improvement plans must comprehensively integrate “flood control,” “water utilization,” and “environment” concerning rivers across the nation. Following this amendment, the “Tama River Improvement Plan” was formulated as the result of accumulated discussions during a period of two years.
Gradual consensus building for river improvement: In the formulation process of the “Tama River Improvement Plan”, the “Tama River Basin Commission”, which aims at gradual consensus building for river improvement, was created. The local residents, civic groups, municipal employees, academic experts and river administrators repeatedly and thoroughly contributed to field observations. In particular, based on the concerned residents’ opinions and requests collected through the “Civic Action” and the “Fureai Tour of Inspection”, an open discussion was conducted as part of the “Tama River Basin Seminar”. Thus, local residents’ opinions were reflected in the Tama River Improvement Plan. Furthermore, the opinions of academic experts collected through the “Tama River Basin Committee” were taken into account.
Use of indigenous knowledge: As a result of the multiphase exchanges of pinions mentioned above, measures born out of the process of discussions were included in the Tama River Improvement Plan.
Citizens and stockholders participatory approach: From the early stage of planning, a procedure for consensus building with residents and all related stockholders within the basin was employed to formulate the “Tama River Improvement Plan”. The public involvement from the beginning of the formulation process in plenary sessions helped every participant to understand and comprehend the mindset and concerns of each group of the stakeholders involved.
Importance of case for IWRM
The “Tama River Improvement Plan” was a great achievement of many people’s labours and almost an equivalent to a large-scale pilot program in itself. In the formulation of the plan, the concerned residents together with administrators thoroughly observed the river and discussed river-related issues. In the plan, the perspectives of “flood control”, “water utilization”, “environment”, and “operation and maintenance” were integrated. It was a pioneering approach in Japan and offered valuable suggestion about “how Japan should manage rivers in the 21st century.” Furthermore, considering its uniqueness in the method for residents’ participation, this process of the plan development and implementation will undoubtedly serve as an excellent case study for IWRM at the global level.
Takami ADACHI (Deputy Director)
email@example.com, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport