Coastline Conservation-Establishment of
Common Tide land Use Rights

Kikara Keikichi
  JAPAN is an island country,surrounded in
all four directions by the sea. It has a
coast line of 26,500 kilometers, the third
longest coast line in the world, with the Soviet
Union and Australia in first and second place.
But durng the past few years, Japan's coast-
line has experienced great and suddenal-
  During the latter part of the sixties, Japan
began to support a high econoic growth
policy. Under this policy, industrial land
development was vigorously encouraged
throughout the country, with precedence over
all else.  Much of the natural coastline was
filled in to provide reclaimed land for the
constrction of factories, harbors and roads.
The actual extent of the situation thus created
was brought to light by means of a natural
environment preservation investigation of the
islands of  Japan carried out by the Environ-
ment Agency in 1973.
  This investigation, commonly known as the
National Green Condition Investigation, re-
vealed that 21.2 percent or 5,650 kilometers of
the nation's coastline has been converted to
reclaimed land, and that another 19.2 percent
or 5,060 kilometers has been altered in one way
or another transforming it into a seminatural
state.This means that only 58.6 percent or
15,827 kilometers of Japan' s coastline still

remains in its pure natural state.
  Thus nearly half of the coastline of Japan
has been deprived of its true nature, and in the
area of such metropolitan centers as those
around Tokyo Bay and Osaka Bay, and such
industrial centers as Ise Bay and the Seto
Inland Sea, there is very little natural beach
still remaining.
  This unbridled destruction and alteration of
the coastline in Japan can be attributed to the
following three causes.
  First, the national government and the
provincial self-governing bodies that own the
coastline had no clear policy for the conserva-
tion of the coastline.  No plan had been
established to determine which parts of
Japan's national coastline should be left in its
natural state and which should be utilized for
  Second, due to the failure of the Goven-
ment's land policies, land prices skyrocketed
to an extent never before experienced any-
where else in the entire world.  This made it
most dificult to find suitable land in the in-
terior for the constructing of new factory
complexes.  Thus it became much less ex-
pensive to reclaim land along the coastline to
provide sites for new factories, and for this
reason, the provincial self-governing bodies
which vied in enticing factories tried eagerly

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights

to reclaim land on their coastlines.
  Third, since Japanese industry has the
special characteristic of importing raw ma-
terials from abroad and using them to manu-
facture merchandise which is then exported for
sale in foreign countries, having factories on
the coastline makes it far simpler to unload
the raw materials and load the finished prod-
ucts and also results in far smaller transport-
ing expenses than in the case of inland lo_
cation of factories.
  This tendency was fostered by a bill which
was passed in 1921 known as the Law for
Reclaiming of Public Water Surface.   Ac-
cording to this law, the only people holding
rights to the sea area invoIved in reclaiming
are fishermen whose work is connected direct-
ly with the sea.  People of the interior whose
lives are made richer by the sea and its prod-
ucts are not included.  Thus any provincial
self-govening body or enterprise wishing to
reclaim offshore sea areas is required only to
pay compensation to the fishermen involved
and need not even gain the permission of resi-
dents of the interior.  Also in 1950, harbor
laws and fishing port laws were established to
facilitate the construction of public harbors
and wharves.
  On the other hand, laws for the preservation
of the coastline are most inadequate.  For
instance, the Natural Park Law only provides
for limitations on alterations of the natural
environment within the boundaries of already
established National Parks.  There are no
general laws for the preservation of the coast-
line.  For instance, in the case of the Seto
Inland Sea, famous throughout the world for
the beauty of its thousands of tiny islands, so
many reclamation projects had been carried
out during the past decade that serious
problems of water pollution and environment
destruction began to arise, that in 1973 a
special law was established for the preserva-
tion of the environment of the Seto Inland Sea
which put legal limitations on future reclama-
tion projects for the frst time.
  During the last half of the sixties, there was

a sudden increase in coastline alterations
through reclamation and the construction of
harbors.  More and more people throughout
the country began to feel concern for the
problems thus created.  It was during the last
half of the sixties that the bird-lovers through-
out the nation began to band together to
protest the reclaiming of tidelands due to the
fact that it was depriving such migratory birds
as snipes and plovers of their natural habitat.
They pointed out that the Japanese Govern-
ment had signed a treaty with America, the
Soviet Union, and Australia for the protttion
of migratory birds, and they maintained that
Japan has an international obligation to pre-
serve the tidelands as the natural habitat of
these migratory birds.
  As a result, a man-made tideland was de-
veloped on a portion of the reclaimed land
called Shinhama Tideland in Tokyo Bay.
However, a man-made tideland is no more
than a man-made facility, and is not the same
as natural tidelands.  The All-Japan Nature
Preservation Association, a liaison body of
people's movement organizations, emphasizes
as their main policy the preservation of
natural tidelands and the natural coastline.
  These general conditions gave birth to the
concept ofgCommon Tideland Use Rjghts,"
to provide for the protection of the coastline
and the return of its use to the citizens of the
nation.  This gave rise to a wide-range peo-
ple's movement.  ThisgCommon Tideland
Use Rights" movement began in 1973 among
the citizens of Takasago, a city in Hyogo Pre-
fecture that faces the Seto Inland Sea.  It all
started in the following mamer.
  The people began to feel serious concern
when it was determined that their harbor had
been polluted by PCB (poly-chloride-bifenil)
found in the waste materials discharged from
the Kanegafuchi Chemical Factory in a sea-
side industrial complex.  On Noveober 11
1973, a meeting of citizens was held in Taka-
sago to lodge complaints against pollution.
They discussed the contamination of the sea.
They bemoaned the fact that not only had

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights

the sea water been contaminated, but that
there was also no longer any white sand on the
beaches, because all the beaches had been
reclaimed and hardened with concrete, and no
trespassing signs had been posted by the
factories that had taken possession of them.
All agreed that the situation had become too
terible to be borne any longer without
  The beautiful scenery of the area had been
famous throughout Japan for centuries past,
and is described in the equally famous Noh
drama titled gTakasago.h  All this beautiful
scenery had been converted into reclaimed
land by the construction of the seaside in-
dustrial area by means of a gigantic project
that had been initiated in 1961.  An old man
recalled the days when he would go out to
collect firewood on the beach after a storm.
A mother voiced pity for the children of today
who must swim in their school pools rather
than in the clean sea water on the natural
beaches as had been possible in the past.
  At the same meeting, Takasaki Hiroshi,
ownerand manager of a training school in the
city,spoke saying that since people who live in
mountain and forest areas have been given
Comoon Mountain and Forest Use Rights
for the protection of their natural resources,
the people living near the sea should also be
given similar rights for the common use of the
tideland.  He went on to propose that this
be calledgCommon Tideland Use Rights.h
These words of Mr.Takasaki provided a

catch phrase under which all the people who
loved the sea and the beach gathered to form a
concrete movement to establish anew their
common Tideland Use Rights.
  This concept was thus not created by
scholars at their desks, but by the grass-roots
people who found their own lives threatened
by the dangers of pollution.
  Very soon the Association for the Promo-
tion of Common Tideland Use Rights for
Takasago was established, Its 75 founding
members included the owner of the candy
store in front of the station, movers, barbers,
liquor store owners, management consultants,
high school teachers, and office workers who
liked to fish.  These people from a wide variety
of all walks of life gathered together to
research the history of the beaches of Taka-
sago, to write down the memories of the old
People in the area, and to investigate the
actual situation in terms of the destruction of
the environment.  These nameless people
took up the concrete problems of the area in
which they themselves live.  They carried out
actual field investigation and thought over
the problems carefully, and came up with a
set of universal rights concerning the relation-
ship between human life and the coastline.
  This association, headed by Takasaki Hiro-
shi who coined the terogCommon Tideland
Use Rights,hcollected the memories of the
people of the area and published a book
titled gOne Hundred Witnesses - The Sea of 
Takasago Past and Present.h This book is a

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights
valuable record of the Common Tideland Use
Customs and Practices of the past, related by
means of the memories of the head priest of
the Takasago Shrine, the vice-principal of the
junior high schooI, People who used to have
tea-stalls on the beach and many others whose
lives were spent on the beaches and in the
tidelands of Takasago.  Numerous people
joined the movement as a result of their
telling of their sorrow at the loss of the
beaches of their home town for inclusion in
this book.
  The pines of Takasago, immortalized in the
classical Noh theater of Japan for centuries
past, are now beginning to die amidst the
poisonous gas fumes emitted from the fac-
tories of the seaside industrial area.  The
smokestacks of the industrial complex make
up the view one now gets when standing in
frot of the gate of the shrine.  It is thought
that the present environment destruction
problems must be considered from the three
viewpoints of pollution, destruction of nature,
and the city of Takasago is an exampIe of the
destructive force of modern gprogresshon all
three counts.
  The destruction of the coastline is today in
evidence throughout Japan.  For example,
the beauty of Tago Inlet in Shizuoka Prefec-
ture, the praises of which are sung in Japan's
oldest collection of poems known as the
Manyoshu,was destroyed when it was dug
up to construct a new harbor in the late
1950s. Also, the 400,000 black pines of the
shelter belt planted in the city of Sakata in
Yamagata Prefecture during the Edo Period
more than 200 years ago were felled to make
way for the building of factories and a
harbor. These destructive projects were
carried out at about the same time that the
beaches of Takasago were filled in with con-
crete for the building of factories.
  And what is the result ?  Tago Inlet, where
one could in the past enjoy the beauty of the
sea and the beach and the great Mount Fuji,
has been tranformed into Japan's most

polluted area due to the sludge and air con-
tamination produced by the waste from the
paper factory now in operation there.  And
the famous pine forest nearby is dying at a
fast rate.For this reason, the people of the
area, fearing damage from high tides, cut
down the forest of green pines and built a
huge concrete breakwater, which they have
nicqamedgThe Great Wall of China.hThe
farmers of Sakata now face similar problems,
for with their precious shelter-belt cut down,
they suffer great damage from the strong
winds from the Japan Sea, and on top of this,
they are forced to breath the gas fumes from
the new factories built there.
  In this way, the beautiful coastline of Japan
has been carelessly filled in, destroying some
of Japaan's most gorgeous natural scenery, as
we have seen in the examples of Takasago,
Tago Inlet, and Sakata.
  In these areas, the price of shipping has
shown a sudden increase, resulting in unusuaI
growth for Japan's GNP.  But while it has
produced this sort of calculable results, it has
proved to be an uncalculable detriment to the
amenity of the daily lives of the peopleo of
Japan by depriving them of sand beaches, the
sound of the wind in the pines, the smell of the
sea in the air, and all the memories of child-
hood and the sea that are held dear by so
many of the people of Japan.
  The Environment Committee of the OECD
held a conference in Tokyo in November 1976
to review the policies of the Japanese Govern-
ment.  This conferene found that the Japa-
nese Government is indeed showing progress
in the fight against pollution, but that its ef-
forts are far from satisfactory in the fight for
preservation of the environment.  In other
words, during the past few years, much has
been done in terms of countermeasures
against air and water pollution, but policies
for the protection and creation of naturaI
amenity have been almost entirely forgotten.
The movement for Common Tideland Use
Rjghts is for the very purpose of regaining a
sense of vaIue for amenity in terms of the

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights
coasthne of Japan.
  The insistence on Common Tideland Use
Rights was a fresh flash of lightning in the
dark night for people throughout the country
who had regretted the destruction of the
coastline, and people from all areas of Japan
began to join the movement in great numbers.
This movement provides a strong weapon for
those people who had already been fighting
for preservation of the coastline in protests
against the building of such facilities as
thermoelectric power plants, atomic energy
Power plants, and petroleum storage bases
  Amidst all this, a conference was held in
Tokyo in February 1975 titledgThe Assembly
for Bringing the Sea Back to Life and Oppos-
ing Industrial Complexes.h At this confer-
ence agComoon Tideland Use Rights
Declarationhwas written for the purpose of
Promoting citizens'movements for these
rights throughout the entire nation.  This
conference was a continuation of the assembly
that had been held the previous year in De-
cember by the fishermen and citizens of the
nation to protest the huge amounts of crude
oil that had flowed into the Seto Inland Sea
from the Mizushima Industrial Complex in
Okayama Prefecture, contaminating the water
  Since thisgCommon Tideland Use Rights
Declarationhis such an epoch-making his-
torical document in the fight for preservation
of the Japanese coastline, I wish to introduce
its entire text here.
gFrom ancient times, the sea has belonged 
to the people.  Their rights tostroll along the 
beaches, enjoy the scenery, fish, and swim in 
its waters, or draw water, collect driftwood,
dig shellfish, and collect seaweed to earn their 
daily bread are far older rights than the law 
that allows individuals to possess land.   And 
it is thought that the rights of common use of 
shelter-belt forests along the coastline are 
equally as ancient. We hereby name these 
rights our Common Tideland Use Rights
We believe that the Common Tideland Use 

Rights are necessary elements for a good 
environment which is guaranteed to the 
people by the Constitution of Japan.  In 
recent years, as a part of the high growth 
policy of the Government, the building of 
industrial complexes has been vigorously pro-
moted.   For this purpose, not only have 
large stretches of Japan's coastline been con-
verted into reclaimed land, destroying large 
swaths of nature, but industrial factories have 
been built right down to the edge of the water 
as well, totally violating the people's Common 
Tideland Use Rights.   All kinds of pollu-
tion have emanated from these factories.   
We hereby declare our Common Tideland 
Use Rights as the basis for our movement to 
eradicate pollution, to protect the natural 
environment from destruction, and to restore 
the natural environment that has been 
  This declaration found strong support
throughout the nation, and in August 1976,
the first Common Tideland Use Rights Syo-
posium was held in Kobe.  Those attending
included not only representatives from nature
preservation and antipollution citizens' or-
ganizations, fishery groups, angling groups,
and sea bathing groups, but legal scholars,
lawyers, ethnoIogists, land problem research-
ers, and jounalists as well.  The large variety
attending pointed out once more just how
important the problems of the sea and the
coastline have become to thinking people.
and it also illustrated just how broadly the
ideas concerning Common Tideland Use
Rights have spread and just how deep the
relationship between these problems and
civilization in general is.
  The symposium decided on the following
two points as its objectives.  The first was to
deepen the theory of Common Tideland Use
Rights in a scientific manner and to utilize the
results of such a study as a source of energy
for the strengthening and the support of the
resolve of citizens' movements for the pre-
servation of the coastline.  The second was
to provide direction to movements toward the

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights
establishment of laws to eliminate the destruc-
tion of the coastline and insure its future
preservation.  As is to be exptted from the
variety of backgrounds represented among its
participants, the points brought up for dis-
cussion covered an extremely broad range of
topics.  For instance, an ethnologist made
clear at this symposium the relationship of the
Japanese race and the sea as an island people
since the ancient past and the way of thinking
of the people over the centuries concerning the
coastIine and their way of life in relation to
that coastline.
  The beach is the plae where the rhythms of
nature can best be felt.  The tide comes in
and goes out.  Day breaks and evening
darkens.  The things brought in by the tide
change from season to season as do the fish in
the sea.  It is the beach where man can best
feel in the workings of his own body and in
his breathing that he is indeed a part of
organic nature.  These were the things the
ethnologist explained.  For these reasons it
is said that in Okinawa, the farthest south of
the islands of Japan, one can see people
carrying on the custom of facing the sea to
pray to the gods that have always been
believed to abide on its far side even today.
The beach is the place where man expresses
his hope and his fear of those things that come
to him from beyond the sea.
  The insistence on Common Tideland Use
Rights comes from a sense of values that is
based on this kind of traditional Japanese
concepts and subliminal consciousness con-
cerning the coastline.  And thus it is pre-
dicted that these aspects will contribute to a
deeply rooted and long lasting movement
among the people of apan.
  The legal scholars and lawyers who partici-
pated in the symposium discussed the legal
character of Common Tideland Use Rights
and its theoretical basis.  They determined
that these rights are a part of the general
environmental rights and that due to the
natural characteristics of Japan, laws should
be established to protect these rights.  They

expressed their  intent to bring to reality laws
giving individuals and groups the right to
bring cases to court against acts of environ-
mental destruction, similar to the Environ.
ment Protection Law of Michigan State, U.S.,
or the Nature Conservation Law of Frant.
  Reports were made by jounalists consern-
ing the history and present condition of
citizens' movements and government admin-
istration on the problem of coastline preser-
vation in foreign countries, esppecially Britain
and the United Stats. An example was given
of the importance placed on maintenance
of coastlines and rural districts in a British
Government white paper titledgRegula-
tions on Land Usehthat was made public in
1944 during the Second World War.  Also
reports were made on the action taken by the
Ministry of Housing and Local Government
(consolidated with the Environment Ministry
in1970) in I963 in the form of a communica-
tion from the minister, to cary out preserva-
tion development of the coastline,sent to the
Provincial planning departments responsible
for control of the coastline.
  Also a series of regional conferences were
held by the Countryside Commission in 1966
and 1967 in order to discover ways and means
to carrIy out preservation and development of
the coastline.  The findings of these confer-
ences hve been published under the title,
gThe Coastal Heritage - Coastal Preservation
and Development; Countryside Commission
HMS0.h  And the citizens of Britain are
also active in work for the preservation of
their coastline.
  Around the end of the 19th century, wom-
en's movement worker Octavia Hill and two
other citizens formed the National Trust for
the purpose of preserving British traditional,
historical,and natural environment.  They
collected funds from the nation's citizens to
Purchase historical sites, old castles,churches,
historical towns, farms and ranches in order
to preserve them for posterity.  Coastline
sections were also purchased by this move-
ment.  In 1965 a new contribution campaign

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights
was begun for the special preservatino of the
coastline, called Enterprise Neptune.
  The Duke of Edinburgh heads this cam-
paign which takes its name from the Roman
god of the sea.  The first objective was to
collect two million pounds.  The campaign
was a sutess and the objective of two million
pounds was reached in November 1973.
With this money, 192 miles of beautiful
coastline was purchased.  Added to the
amount of coastline that has been purchased
by preservation movements during the past
70 years, 350 miles of coastline are now being
preserved.  This figure represents more than
a third of the entire length of the most beauti-
ful coastline of England and Wales,  However,
this still does not fully satisfy the demands of
the preservation policy.  Contributions are
at present being collected to buy an additional
100 miles of coastline.
  As a result of scholarly discussion and talks
between experts and general citizens, Japan's
symposium resolved to further develop the
movement in the direction of abolishing the
law for reclaiming public water surfaces and
of establishing new basic laws for preser-
vation and protection of the natural coastline.
Demands have been made for abolition of
the Iaw for reclaiming public water surfaces
on the grounds that it robs the people of their
rights.  The movement is also insisting that
basic coastline preservation laws be passed
to provide such basic principles as preserva-
tion and free use of beaches, abolition of
geographical alterations, prevention of con-
tamination of beaches and sea water, and
establishment of citizens' committees to act
as environmental watchdogs,  And it was
further decided to demand that all reclama-
tion projects be stopped until such laws and
regulations are passed and put into efect.
  Much praise was given by the representa-
tives at Japan's symposium to the British
people whose work to preserve and protect
the historical and natural environment of
their country shows true patriotism.  And
even though Britain and Japan are on oppo-

site sides of the Eurasian continent, they are
both island countries surrounded by the sea.
Thus the Japanese could not help but feel
great respect for the British people who recog-
nized the importance of their coastline long
before destruction and pollution had begun
and took steps to preserve its natural beauty.
  In Japan, citizens' movements against
destruction of nature began after destructive
development had already gotten well under
way.  All those attending the symposium
agreed that even though they were quite late,
it is necessary to bring about a citizens' move-
ment in Japan similar to Britain's National
Trust.  It was decided to carry out a Japa-
nese style Enterprise Neptune, and a prepara-
tory organization was created for that pur-
  General anglers are showing a deep interest
in the Common Tideland Use Rights move-
ment.  They had always enjoyed fishing on
the beach until suddenly without even con-
sulting with them, big enterprise moved in to
fill in those beaches and build factories.
Since these factories refused to allow the
general public to enter their grounds, the
anglers lost their fishing beaches.  They lost
the means to satisfy their desire to fish.
These people banded together in both Taka-
sago and Tokyo to hold fish pole demon-
strations for Comoon TideIand Use Rights.
  Anglers joined with professional fishermen
to fight for these rights and the movement
was thus strengthened.  Amongf ishermen,
there are two groups.  0ne group gave up
their work of fishing and their rights and
accepted compensation from the factories.
The stond group flatly refused compensation
and insisted that they be given back the sea.
They are demanding that the factories clean
up the sea and return it to its natural state of
beauty.  These fishermen have joined the
movement for Common Tideland Use Rights.
  The islands of Japan are constantly washed
anew by the Black Current from the south
seas and the Kurile Current from the north.
The people of Japan have always needed the

Coastline Conservation-Establishment ofCommon Tide land Use Rights
sea as much as they do the air they beath.
but due to this yery fact,they have tended to
forget the importance of preserving it.  But
as more and more of the coastline was filled
in to provide reclaimed land for the high
growth policies, the people began to realize
that their windows to the open sea were being
closed one after another.  It is only natural
that if one has been living in a house with
plenty of windows that let in the sunshine and
fresh air and suddenly those windows are all

closed and darkened, one will find theat house
uncomfortable and unpleasant to live in.
The people of Japan began to demand that
their windows be reopened and the fresh air
let flow in.  The Common Tideland Use
Rights movement is for the purpose of making
the environment comfortable and pleasant to
live in once more - to bring amenity back into
the lives of the people and to establish their
right to a good environment.

Coastal Access Right Movement

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