Press Relations Article

What is the “Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel” concept to connect Kyushu and Busan by railway? Cost: 10 trillion yen; 60% of South Koreans say it is "necessary"

business journal

April 20, 2021


As relations between Japan and South Korea are said to be at their worst since the war, the idea of ​​a ``Japan-Korea undersea tunnel'' has been floated. This is an infrastructure project that will connect Japan's Kyushu with South Korea's Busan through an undersea tunnel and run railways.


This is a grand project spanning more than 200km that was mentioned by Kim Jong-in, chairman of the emergency response committee of South Korea's largest opposition party, People's Power. In the mayoral elections in Seoul and Busan held on April 7, candidates from the same party defeated the ruling party's candidates in both cases. Kim, who served as the party's top leader, has stepped down, but will the Japan-Korea tunnel plan move forward?


We spoke to Hirofumi Sato, chairman of the International Highway Foundation, which is promoting the project in Japan.



--Please tell us about the historical background of the Japan-Korea tunnel project.


Mr. Hirofumi Sato (hereinafter referred to as Sato) In the 1930s, Japan's Ministry of Railways planned the Korean Strait Tunnel, which would run from Kyushu through Iki and Tsushima to Busan on the Korean Peninsula, but it was later stopped due to war and other reasons. Did. After the war, super general contractor Obayashi Corporation proposed this method in 1980.


An epoch-making event for the Foundation was the 10th International Conference on Scientific Unification held in Seoul, South Korea in 1981, where President Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church proposed the international highway concept and the construction of a Japan-Korea tunnel. That's it. This was an innovative proposal to not only connect Japan and South Korea with a tunnel, but also to connect the world with highways.


In response, the International Highway Construction Corporation was established in 1982, the Japan-Korea Tunnel Study Group was established in 1983, and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Japan-Korea Tunnel Karatsu Incline was held in 1986. We also conducted natural surveys and considered underground routes before purchasing land in Karatsu, Iki, and Tsushima. Currently, the Karatsu slant shaft has been stopped, but from now on, the main work will be on the Tsushima slant shaft construction, for which the groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2014.


Construction of the Japan-Korea Tunnel will cost approximately 10 trillion yen, so it must proceed with the support of both Japanese and Korean citizens. This foundation was established in 2009 with the purpose of arousing national public opinion. Additionally, linking this movement with national movements, the Japan-Korea Tunnel Promotion Prefectural Council was formed in 47 prefectures in 2018, and is working to increase public understanding.



--What is the significance of constructing the Japan-Korea tunnel, which costs a huge amount of money?


Sato: Currently, there are various problems between Japan and South Korea, but I think that by working together toward the big goal of building a tunnel that connects the two countries, we can improve mutual understanding and resolve historical issues. thinking about. Rather than taking the attitude of doing nothing because Japan-Korea relations are currently bad, we should be discussing the Japan-Korea Tunnel Plan behind the scenes, which is the basis for improving relations, precisely because these are bad times.


In a public opinion poll conducted in South Korea two years ago, about 60% of respondents said that it is necessary, indicating that public opinion is gaining momentum. I am aware that there are opinions in Japan such as ``Why is there a need for a tunnel that connects to South Korea?'' and ``Will South Korea attack?'', but I believe that the Japan-Korea tunnel is an absolutely necessary international public service. It is positioned as a business.



--Is it technically difficult?


Sato: Basically, I think the technology used to excavate the Seikan Tunnel is sufficient to deal with this problem. The problem that is currently known is the unconsolidated layer that is thickly deposited between Tsushima and South Korea (Tsushima West Channel). Construction methods must be considered after carefully assessing the state of the unconsolidated layer and geological properties. Sufficient construction methods must be considered for other sections as well. If you do them properly, it shouldn't be difficult.



--What are your thoughts on the current Japan-Korea conflict?


Sato: We should learn this from the Korean envoys of the Edo period. At that time, envoys visited Japan 12 times, providing an opportunity for deep ties between Japan and Korea. I believe that the Japan-Korea tunnel will become something like a modern-day Korean envoy. Therefore, I think it is necessary to continue the Japan-Korea tunnel construction project.


Hiroshi Kikuchi's novel ``Beyond Benevolence'' depicts enemies melting away as they dig a tunnel together. The "Blue Cave" in Oita Prefecture, which was the model for the novel, took 30 years to open, but if Japan and South Korea join forces and continue to dig tunnels like this, the gap between the two countries will be improved. I believe that this will help dissolve the relationship between enemies.


Please see the linked page for the full article

What is the “Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel” concept to connect Kyushu and Busan by railway? Cost: 10 trillion yen; 60% of South Koreans say it is "necessary"

Top of page