ICHARM > Message from Director

Message from Director


  Heart admiring cherry blossoms leads to
  essential flood risk reduction

In Tsukuba, where ICHARM locates, cherry blossoms are at their peak. At any rate, Japanese like cherry blossoms so much. It might be because they see the ephemeral nature of life in cherry blossoms falling graciously after full bloom for several days. People plant them in parks and school grounds and along streets. Graduates from the master and Ph.D. courses of ICHARM plant a memorial cherry blossom tree in each year.

In many small and medium-size rivers, people often planted cherry blossom trees along the both sides of river dykes. A lot of cherry blossom trees, however, were cleared due to river improvement works to accommodate a large increase in flood peak discharge associated with rapid urbanization in Japan. Local residents wanted to keep rows of cherry trees, objected to river improvement plans, and had conflicts with river managers.

As such incidents were common throughout the country, a thought-provoking solution in the case of the Mama River, not far from Tsukuba, is worthy of attention. A river improvement work plan had been proposed by river managers, and sparked a big and long debate between local residents and river managers. In the process of discussion, the Mama River flooded in 1981, causing serious damage to more than 9,000 houses. More than 150 meetings were held and then they found two solutions. One was river widening; though old cherry trees had to be cut down, the new river bank was so designed that new trees were planted. The other was really essential one. They agreed to promote Comprehensive Flood Management in the Mama River basin by constructing retarding basins and increasing urban infiltration functions.

Very beautiful cherry blossoms remind us of the importance of comprehensive dialogues among all stakeholders for getting a holistic solution.

28 April 2017
Toshio KOIKE
Director of ICHARM