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Ishigaki seeking new rules to limit development and protect scenery

Date Posted: 2007-10-18

Ishigaki City has targeted the Arakawa and Kannondou areas for protection against heavy development.

The city is filing a request with the Ministry of Land and Infrastructure and Transport, asking for inclusion in a nationwide program that restricts development and construction that would alter the scenic beauty of the island. There are currently 16 districts in Japan protected under the law, which limits the heights of buildings, size and area design, and roofs. Ishigaki wants roofs to all be Okinawan red tile.

If approved, it would be the first Okinawa community included in the protection law. A total of 67.8 hectares is to be protected. “We need to get everybody’s support,” Ishigaki City’s mayor says, “and to understand how to protect our beautiful island.” Outside interests, mainly Japanese and American investors, have purchased much land in the area, some as long as 20-30 years ago. Current construction laws do not specify what can and can’t be built on the property in Arakawa and Kannondou areas.

Officials say limitations on construction height and buildings and resort sizes are important, particularly in the Kannondou, because the area is home to Fuzaki Temple dedicated to the Kannon’s history, and to Chinese immigrants’ graves. Ishigaki City is now conducting meetings with local citizens to educate them on the issues and procedures.

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