Flood of claims

Published: Wednesday 30 April 2003

Japan continues to face legal ripples created by its decision to fund the construction of a dam in Indonesia. A fresh wave of 4,600 Indonesians has now sued the Japanese government, alleging that the project has wrecked their livelihoods by forcing them to resettle. Last year, more than 3,800 Indonesians took a similar step. The structure in question is the Kotopanjang dam in Sumatra, which was funded by Japan's Official Development Assistance.

The plaintiffs have demanded reparation costs of US $41,650 each from the Japanese government and its foreign assistance body, the Japan International Cooperation Agency. They say that their lives have been disrupted by the dam project, and cite the absence of fresh water and unemployment in the region to where they were shifted. It is also alleged that the hydroelectric dam -- which was completed in 1997 -- has damaged the ecology of the region and rendered wild animals susceptible to starvation.

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