Japan to compile new list of 100 important waters in Reiwa era

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
The underground lake in Ryusendo cave in Iwaizumi, Iwate Prefecture, which features on a Showa-era list of the nation’s most important waters.

The Environment Ministry is to newly compile an index of the nation’s 100 best springs, rivers and other water sources.

The “Selected 100 Exquisite and Well-conserved Waters,” list for the Reiwa era (2019-) will follow past examples drawn up in the Showa era (1926-89) and the Heisei era (1989-2019).

The project aims to protect the quality of water in listed locations while encouraging tourism and related undertakings to help revitalize chosen areas.

The ministry will decide on its selection criteria next fiscal year, with the final list to be drawn up in fiscal 2024. It is possible that the new aquatic index may include waters previously chosen during the Showa and Heisei eras.

The ministry plans to add ¥50 million for related expenses to its initial budget request for fiscal 2023. The expenses will cover selection-criteria discussions.

The Showa-era register was compiled by the then Environment Agency in 1985 to protect the environments around the 100 selected waters, which included the underground lake in Ryusendo cave in Iwate Prefecture, Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture and the Furosui well in Fukuoka Prefecture. The Heisei roster, which was drawn up in 2008, covered 100 different waters and took environmental changes into consideration.

The selection criteria for the past two lists included the amount and the quality of water, circumstances in the surrounding environment and preservation activities. Expert committees chose from among springs, rivers, underground waters and other locations recommended by prefectures across the country.

The ministry is reportedly planning to add “waterfront utilization” to the criteria, recognizing the use of water as a sightseeing resource to attract tourists, as a focal point for environmental learning — such as by collecting wildlife in and around water sources — and as a resource for domestic and agricultural applications.

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
Shimanto River in Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture, also features on a Showa-era list of the nation’s most important waters.