Kazuo OKAYAMA 1 , Noboru MARUOKA 2
1 Director,Rver Environment Division, River Breau Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transpor(MLIT), 2-1-3 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8918, Japan
2 Director, Planning and Public Relation Division, Foundation for Riverfront Improvement and Restoration 3-8, SANBAN-CHO, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0075, Japan
Japan’s rivers are one of its most precious resources. They are the habitat for a wide variety of life and are a key element in the natural environments and cultures of each region of the country. The people’s close relationship and interaction with rivers and riverside
environments is an integral part of the national culture. River areas are of inestimable value as spaces for rest and recreation.
On the other hand, ongoing construction work such as straightening river channels and building concrete revetments is necessary to prevent flood damage and landslides. Unfortunately, these kinds of effective flood control measures often come at the expense of altering the natural environments of rivers and the surrounding landscape.
The rise in the standard of living that has taken place in Japan in the past few decades has created new needs and new expectations of a higher quality of life and an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of pleasant environment. This has led to people taking a new look at problems related to environmental protection and building regional communities. As a result, new concepts are being advanced for creating diverse river environments and spaces along rivers to meet functional needs.
It was against this background that Japan’s River Law was amended in 1997 to include the goal of protecting and improving river environments. Since then, energetic efforts have been made and public works projects are being carried out to meet this new goal. The figures below illustrate the environmental policies followed and measures that have been taken in Japan.