ΐF€mi3j@k @@ahd@@Teiichi Aoyama
BIE, Paris France
Tel: +33 1 4500 3863
Fax: +33 1 4500 9615
We are the volunteer members of Forum on Environmeltal Administration Reforum(E-Forum), one of the NGO/NPO group in Japan.We have been making effort to reform Japanese environmental, energy and waste management policies from the stand point of the independent citizen. Our occupations are diverse such as researchers, scientist, activist, councilors(diet members), and journalists all working for establishing better environmental policies here in Japan to achieve sustainable 21 century.
We are writing this letter to express our great concern on the issues related to the Aichi World Exposition (the Exposition). We are providing our views to the relevant organisations such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI), Aichi Prefecture and Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition (the Association) in many occasions. We have, however, not been heard from those organisations, and are writing this to clarify some issues which we believe to be of your interest.
<Problem 1: Financial Problem>
Although the Japanese national economy
is on its way for the recovery, the national and local financial status,
including that of the Prefecture of Aichi, are still under serious constraints.
This is especially the case after the severe flooding in the Nagoya area in
September this year, in which almost 100 people were dead and wounded, 64,000
houses were damaged. It will require around 40 billion yen for the whole
recovery of this area
At present, it is proposed that the National Government, Aichi Prefecture and local private companies to equally share the whole cost of the Exposition. There is, however, no guarantee that those cost could be financed in reality: Japan and Aichi Prefecture are both facing the financial crisis, whereas the local private sector is generally reluctant to contribute to the project. The construction cost of the Exposition infrastructure is estimated to be about 135 billion yen, even taking the lately proposed size reduction of the Exposition into consideration. The rest of estimate, 45 billion yen (1/3 of the total cost) for the local private sectors, have been regarded as not feasible. Thus, the whole financial expectation made by the national and local government is unrealistic.
On the other hand, the Association reduced the original estimate for the number of visitors to 15 - 18 million. The experience in the Hanover, however, proved that the revised number could still not be reflecting the real demand, distorting the entire account for the project finance.
There is also an issue related to the visitor transportation. Our estimate shows that the capacity of the Exposition as the original plan would be more or less 10 million visitors. Japanese government has a plan to construct High Speed Super Train (HSST) for the visitor transportation, which would cost over 100 billion yen. There is, however, no detailed study on the spatial development in connection with this railway project. In fact, the cost of the HSST (100 billion yen) and the cost for access road development (30 billion yen) are treated separately from the cost of the Exposition itself (135 billion yen). This lack of detailed spatial and regional planning could result in absent of any merit to the local people. We believe these development projects are, even after some modifications, still one of so-called "20th Century Type Developments", or worse than that, because it would not benefit anybody other than local construction companies.
<Problem 2: Citizens Participation and Involvement>
We are seriously concerned with the fact that there are some discriminatory treatments to some of the stakeholders during the planning process of the Exposition. For the issues of site selection and facility planning, the opinions of the three major environmental groups had been particularly respected, while the local environmental and other groups have been largely ignored.
In fact, until last May, the three major organisations and its proponents were frequently holding private meetings (they were generally referred as "the 6 Parties Negotiation groups"). No local NGOs were, however, invited to these meetings.
The 6 Parties Negotiation Group restricted the discussion to a particular issues: the Committee only discussed how "Kaisho Forest" should be developed for the Exposition, while other sites were excluded from the scope of discussion.
Also, the Citizens Exposition Examination Committee, which was established in May, started discussions in a very tight schedule for about 1 month, under the presumption that registration of the Exposition to the BIE should be done in December 2000. As a result, the entire schedule became too tight to establish consensus among various stakeholders, especially on the issues of natural resources conservation, which had been strongly proposed by the local NGOs.
In addition, some opinions proposed by the local NGOs, whose membership includes experts on local natural environment, were suppressed as those which prolong "unnecessary" conflicts. The Citizens Committee should, therefore, not be regarded as a process of a fair public involvement. We believe that the Committee itself, which should have improve the public participation and transparency in process, is an evidence of a "fake" public involvement.
<Problem 3: Development Plan>
The discussions among the Citizens Committee were mainly focused on the Kaisyo Forest. There was not much discussion on the Aichi Seisyonen Park area where most of the pavilions are to be constructed. The construction of three permanent facilities was finally included in the recommendation of the Citizen Committee. Those permanent facilities are originally proposed personally by a university professor, a member of the Exposition Administrative Committee in March 2000, but the proposal was not followed by necessary debates. The environmental implications of these permanent facilities, such as the damage to the local natural resources, have not been sufficiently addressed. There is an allegation that these facilities are proposed to compromise the major environmental organisations, which anticipate to use those facilities as a base of environmental education after the Exposition. We believe, no matter if it will be used for an environmental excuse or not, the assessment should cover those long lasting facilities.
Based on the above facts, we conclude that, even the new housing development plan was elimiated from the proposal, the construction of permanent facilities in the Kaisho Forest, which is not supported by the consensus among local environmental groups, is not acceptable and should be recognised as a major flaw to the entire proposal.
<Problem 4: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)>
On 13 January 2000, the next day of the MITI EIA Committee had finished their final examination on the final environmental impact statement, the local newspaper published the BIE comments which was seen as critical to the proponents of the Exposition. It turned out that, the EIA Committee was isolated from the public and MITI officials gave the committee members a partial information.
The EIA was carried out as supplementary assessment after the goshawk nest was founded. The accessibility or feasibility of the transportation between 2 separate sites is still not clear. In fact, the citizens in Nagakute Town in which the Seisyonen Park is located, expressed their concern from the viewpoint of the natural resource conservation, quoting various environmental implications such as noise and emission effects from the access road traffics. We hold the view that the EIA should not carried out just as a ritual: it should entail substance. We are, therefore, not able to regard the assessment as legitimate: it has been manipulated to endorse the procedure, under the particular circumstance that the Cabinet gave the priority to meet the schedule for the BIE registration.
<Problem 5: Development Chubu International Airport>
In August 2000, the Aichi Prefecture has started the construction of the Chubu International Airport at offshore of Tokoname Peninsula. This International Airport is estimated to cost about 1 trillion yen. This airport was to meet the aviation demand by the Exposition visitors. However there is an allegation that the whole scale of the development was deliberately overestimated.
The airport will be constructed on the 700ha reclaimed island. Experts suggest that the construction of such an artificial island will affect the tidal stream and the marine ecosystem in vicinity of the proposed site. A significant amount of soil, sand and stone, which is estimated to be around 120 million cubic meters in total, will be involved in the reclamation. Also, the supply of those materials will be resulted in the destruction of local terrestrial ecosystems in the Mie and Aichi Prefectures. At present, many environmental NGOs are expressing their concerns and protesting against the airport construction.
The airport development was planned by the Aichi Prefecture government along the line with the Exposition, and the Aichi Prefecture has indeed initiated the construction, which is due to be completed before the opening of the Exposition in 2005. Since Japanese financial situation is in a critical point, large-scale public projects should be thoroughly reviewed from its necessity, validity and rationality. The Aichi airport development is, not just having severe environmental impact, but is one of the most damaging projects that make severe strain to the financial conditions of the national and local budget.
We have, thus addressed the five problems associated with the Aichi International Exposition. We sincerely hope that the BIE, as an international organisation which has a right and a duty to maintain the quality of international expositions around the world, to re-examine the total legitimacy of the decision making procedure in connection with the Aichi Exposition. We also believe that the consistency between the aims of the expositions and the procedure to meet them is particularly important to demonstrate the purpose of the international expositions.
Based on these concerns, we sincerely hope that the BIE to request further investigation. It is crucial for the BIE to maintain its standard, not just for the Exposition itself, but for the whole procedure relevant to the world expositions.
The E-Forum is one of the non-government groups in Japan, whose purpose is to improve the global and domestic environmental quality through scientific and social researches and actions. We are working on the issues related to the global and Japanese environmental, energy and waste management policies as an independent citizen coalition. The membership of E-Forum is consistent of academics, scientists, activists, parliament members, and journalists. The objective of the E-Forum is to improve environmental policies in Japan to achieve sustainable future. Some of our members are heavily involved in the Aichi Exposition issues. Since there are some unsolved allegations as to the Exposition, many members of the E-Forum decided to address those issues at the international, national, local level.
Volunteers of Forum on Environmental Administration Reform (E-Forum)