Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association
c/o Oak, 6-4 Tomino-cho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8174
Phone/FAX +81 172 36-7982
Date / /
Dear Mr. Or Ms. xxxxx,
Please allow us to inform you of the serious damage being done to the beautiful landscape and endangered wildlife of Mt. Iwaki, a statuesque mountain located 20 kilometers northeast of the Shirakami Mountains, known worldwide for having been designated a World Natural Heritage Site for their well-preserved primeval beech forest.
A ski resort, located on the northwestern slope of Mt. Iwaki, is now under expansion. This resort, named Ajigasawa Ski Resort, is operated by Kokudo, a firm notorious for disregarding serious negative effects on the local ecosystems in its construction of numerous golf courses and ski slopes around Japan. The expansion of Ajigasawa Ski Resort is deforesting the most well-preserved area of the mountain, home to endangered species of birds such as the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos and the red-headed black woodpecker Dryocopus martius.
Members of the Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association have frequently noted eagles flying over the forest and have identified the feeding marks of the woodpecker on trunks of beech trees in the area. Our observations indicate without question the importance of this area for these birds. The Japanese black bear Selenarctos thibetanus japonicus also makes this forest its home.
In addition, the endangered crayfish Cambaroides japonicus can be found in a small stream situated very close to the ski courses currently under construction. Although both the woodpecker and the crayfish are also found in Hokkaido, there are several characteristics by which they differ. It is thus believed that the populations in Aomori are endemic subspecies with very limited ranges of distribution. Deforestation of the area is a great threat to the survival of these animals and will no doubt accelerate their extinction.
As important is the effect of such deforestation on local agriculture.
many as 700 farm families keeping apple orchards and rice paddy fields depend on the Narusawa River as a water supply. The source of the Narusawa River can be traced up to the Ounarusawa Gorge, on the northwestern slope of Mt. Iwaki. The two ski courses under construction run parallel to this gorge on both sides, and a bridge crossing the gorge is planned to connect the two courses. The farmers are concerned about the effects on the water supply caused by deforestation and the bridge construction and have formed an association to protest against Kokudo in an effort to preserve the Narusawa River. Several months ago, their association requested that the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery bring measures to legally preserve the forest in the source area of the river. The association has also called on the prefectural governor to withdraw the permission of the construction work he himself has provided to Kokudo, but neither the ministry nor the governor has responded to these requests. The result is that Kokudo has already started cutting down trees, including several 200 year old beech trees.
We at the Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association have carefully studied the assessment report on the effect of the construction work on the local environment that has been submitted to the prefectural government by Kokudo. This report is based on a survey conducted by a group of doubtful authority, moreover, one employed by Kokudo. We found both the method and the term of the survey are far from satisfactory. Moreover, there is evidence of tampering with the survey documents to favor the Kokudo plan. On the basis of such dubious methods, the individual responsible for the final editing of the report has concluded that the construction of new ski courses would have little effect on the local ecosystem.
For these reasons, we have repeatedly submitted petitions, requests and questionnaires to the prefecture governor and the director of the Tohoku Forestry Bureau on our position. We have also publicized our opinions against Kokudo's construction work by writing letters to local newspapers, holding symposia on the impact of construction works on the ecosystem, organizing demonstration parades, and gathering signatures of people against Kokudo's expansion plan. Despite these efforts, the local and national authorities have not withdrawn the permission granted to Kokudo to construct the new ski courses. We believe this is in part because the local authorities have an agreement with Mr. Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, the owner-in-principal of Ajigasawa Ski Resort, regar ding use his ski area for the 2003 Asian Winter Games to be held in Aomori Prefecture. This relationship means that we must fight against not only the legal authority of politicians, but also Mr. Tsutsumi's financial power.
As a result, we decided to sue Kokudo for immediate suspension of their construction activity on the grounds that it violates our water and environmental rights and increases the risk of extinction of several endangered animals. However, a judicial decision will take some time to be made and in the meantime, Kokudo continues their construction work, disregarding our attempts at a legal resolution.
Given these circumstances, we request your help. We implore you to sent letters of protest against the Kokudo's construction work to Mr. Morio Kimura (Governor, Aomori Prefecture), Mr. Youichi Tani (Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery), Mrs. Junko Kawaguchi (Director, Environment Agency), Mr. Hiroshi Hagihara (Director, Aomori Branch of the Tohoku Forest Management Bureau), and Mr. Yoshiaki Tsutsumi (Head of Kokudo) at the addresses given in the appended list.
To make your letters of protest more effective, we request your permission to distribute them to the mass media. Please forward copies of your letter to the Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association at the address given at the top of this letter.
We need you to join in our efforts to save Mt. Iwaki and the rare animals that make it their homes and are looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Chairman, Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association
Secretary, Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association
Mt. Iwaki Conservation Association Homepages
sorry, It is only Japanese site. But, the local woods before cutting it down, some photographs under construction, and so on can be seen.
Mr. Morio Kimura
Governor, Aomori Prefecture
Aomori Prefecture Government Building,
1-1-1 Nagashima, Aomori, 030-8570, Japan
Mr. Yoshiaki Tsutsumi
6-35-1 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001, Japan
Mr. Hiroshi Hagihara
Director, Aomori Branch, Tohoku Forestry Bureau
2-1-1 Yanagawa, Aomori, 038-0012, Japan
Mr. Youichi Tani
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery,
Common Building 3,
1-2-3 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0013, Japan
Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi
Central Common Building 5,
1-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8975, Japan