Friday, March 27, 2009

Zamami's Water and War Woes

I saw this interesting article about Zamami on an English language news site today:

Limited rainfall has left tiny Zamami Island short of the water it needs, and Zamami Village officials are looking for some help from the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces.

The island’s four reservoirs and five wells provide most of the water necessary, but a burgeoning influx of tourists is pushing the water supplies beyond capacity. Officials say there’s enough water for the residents, but not for the 90,000+ tourists visiting each year. The lack of rainfall this year isn’t helping, so the JGSDF is being asked to help out. A dam is under construction at a cost of ¥2.6 billion, but it’s not to be completed for nearly ten years, and even that won’t solve problems without rain.

Complicating the water issue is the mistrust many villagers have toward the Japanese Self Defense Forces, who are still being blamed for group suicides forced during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Residents opposed to asking self defense forces for help are still arguing history textbook descriptions of what happened on the little island nearly 64 years ago must be resolved.

Other residents want their neighbors to put aside the animosity. They say “We just need to get water and make life safe for everybody,” Zamami Village is the most financially troubled community in Okinawa Prefecture, and is on the verge of going bankrupt. They acknowledge that the island’s successful tourism promotion has brought on the difficulties, but are asking for help in getting water support.


Anonymous said...

90,000 visitors a year? That's a lot of people! How do they feel about a desalination plant?

Dave said...

That IS a lot of people. I think we could save a few liters of water just by educating incoming tourists with a little laminated info sheet in the seat backs of the ferries.
Don't know about desalination? I know they have a couple on the Daito islands, which are way, way out to the east of the Okinawan mainland. They use a lot of energy, but I don't know why I haven't seen or heard of it as a possibility yet.