Society | Mar 05

Solar Panels Surrounding Ancient Burial Mounds in Spotlight

NARA, Mar 05 (News On Japan) - Among countless solar panels, a lone burial mound can be seen, sparking controversy over the panels' impact on the landscape.

A visit to the site revealed some surprising facts.

In Gojo City, Nara Prefecture, there was a dispute over land planning for a mega solar project.

A local resident of Gojo City expressed frustration, "Suddenly changing plans without explanation is disrespectful to the citizens of Gojo. What's this about a mega solar project? Can they just do whatever they want? I can't accept this."

The prefecture initially planned to develop a disaster prevention base with a runway but later scrapped it. Instead, they announced a plan to install a mega solar facility of about 25 hectares, along with a heliport and storage warehouses. This led to strong opposition from the local community association that sold the land to the prefecture.

Nowadays, troubles related to solar panel installations are frequent across the country.

In Kumamoto Prefecture's Aso, the mountainside has become entirely covered with solar panels, ruining the scenic view.

In Nara as well, solar panels have been installed in a way that encircles something. In the middle, there's a gap where a burial mound is located. Although the solar panels have been there for several years, social media has seen comments like "Mega solar is invading the burial mound..." and "Solar panels around a grave are just wrong."

So, what exactly happened?

A Nara City official explained, "That burial mound is not public land, nor is it owned by the city. Therefore, the city is not managing it."

After discussions with the landowner, the city conducted investigations for several months, resulting in a setup that protects the burial mound.

In Japan, there are said to be about 160,000 burial mounds, but only 899 are managed by the Imperial Household Agency, mainly imperial tombs. Most burial mounds are privately owned.

There are other places where solar panels coexist with burial mounds.

In Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, the Koshinzuka burial mound has solar panels placed directly on top of it.

The program interviewed a man who owns a burial mound, revealing his desperate situation.

"After inheriting the burial mound from my mother, the land was overgrown with weeds and trees. I received a notice from the fire department to remove them," said the owner.

A few years ago, he faced complaints from neighbors and notices from the city and fire department to properly manage the overgrown site.

He considered selling the land that had been passed down through generations but faced legal restrictions.

"The Cultural Properties Protection Law prevents the sale of the land. I can't transfer it or do anything with it, even as the owner," he explained.

Stuck in a difficult situation, the man consulted with the city and decided to level the land and install solar panels for management purposes. This decision brought significant benefits.

"The burial mound was originally thought to be about 5 meters high, but now it measures only 3 meters. It's been eroded by rain and wind. To prevent erosion, we decided to place concrete. We discussed with the city that this would be good for the protection of cultural properties. It's a win-win situation," he said.

Source: ANN


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