Mount Fuji in 'real crisis,' Japanese officials sound the alarm
Mount Fuji is a renowned and culturally significant Japanese landmark, known for its iconic snow-capped peak.
Local Japanese authorities are cautioning that Mount Fuji, a revered mountain in Japan and a frequented touristic destination, might lose its appeal if measures to manage the tourist influx are not implemented.
Masatake Izumi, a Yamanashi prefectural government official, emphasized during a tour for foreign media on Saturday that Mount Fuji is enduring considerable strain and stated that addressing "overtourism" requires urgent attention.
Izumi, as quoted by Reuters, voiced concerns about a "real crisis" Mount Fuji is facing due to the uncontrollable influx of tourists. He expressed the fear that Mount Fuji could soon lose its appeal to the extent that people would no longer want to climb it.
Government officials have reported that the surge in tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic has attracted thousands of hikers to the mountain. This has caused environmental harm and increased demands on first aid services. Despite launching a campaign encouraging visitors not to litter and involving volunteers in the annual cleanup of tons of trash, both hikers and caretakers have expressed concerns about overcrowding and the accumulation of garbage along the trail.
Inexperienced, ill-equipped climbers
Mount Fuji ranger Miho Sakurai informed the media that there is currently an excessive number of visitors on Mount Fuji, including a significant number of inexperienced individuals attempting the climb for the first time. Many of them are inadequately dressed, ill-equipped, and susceptible to conditions like hypothermia and altitude sickness. Consequently, there has been a 50% increase in rescue requests compared to the previous year, and tragically, one person lost their life in a climbing incident in April.
Mount Fuji, an active volcano renowned for its beautiful snow-covered peak and a significant national symbol of Japan, was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2013. The number of visitors to Mount Fuji increased by more than twofold between 2012 and 2019, reaching 5.1 million, as reported by the CNA news agency.
Recently, government officials convened to address issues of "overcrowding and breaches of etiquette" at popular tourist destinations. Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki proposed the construction of a light railway to regulate the number of visitors to the site, emphasizing the need to shift from prioritizing quantity to ensuring quality in Mount Fuji tourism. A local ranger expressed deep concern about the potential loss of Mount Fuji's heritage status.