Press Relations Article

Osaka-Seoul 4 and a half hours ``Japan-Korea undersea tunnel'' suddenly flares up again

A ``Japan-Korea undersea tunnel'' connecting Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula was proposed after the annexation of Japan and South Korea in 1910, but it has not been realized even after a century. Although the plan had become a fantasy, it became a hot topic when conservative opposition parties in South Korea began considering construction ahead of April's mayoral by-election. As Japan-Korea relations deteriorate, the administration is negative, but is this a complete myth? (Seoul / Jo Aisaka)


◆Which benefits Japan or South Korea? Conflict between ruling and opposition parties

``We will actively consider a Korea-Japan undersea tunnel.We can expect an economic effect of 54 trillion won (approximately 5 trillion yen) and employment for 450,000 people.'' In early February, the top official of South Korea's largest opposition party, People's Power, visited Busan for a tour of Busan ahead of the mayoral by-election, and aroused new controversy when he mentioned the tunnel project as well as the construction of a new airport in the suburbs. is.


A spokesperson for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan said, ``The Korea-Japan tunnel is a ``pro-Japanese'' topic that will benefit Japan more.Japan has not even proposed it first and suddenly brought up an immature issue ahead of the presidential election. is irresponsible.'' The chairman of the party's policy committee quipped, ``The only benefit we will gain from the tunnel is to drive to Japan.''


◆Not at the mayoral by-election level, but at the presidential election level.

Japanese and South Korean researchers who have been promoting undersea tunnels for many years view these exchanges between South Korea's ruling and opposition parties with mixed eyes.


A former president of South Korea's Busan University of Foreign Studies says, ``The tunnel should be promoted as a long-term project between countries.It is undesirable for the ruling party to label the opposition party as pro-Japan and use it as fodder to attack.'' Shinichiro Nagano, a professor emeritus at Daito Bunka University, also argued, ``This is a project that should be part of national policy.If they are serious about this, they should make it a presidential campaign pledge, not a by-election for mayor.'' He explained the background of the concept, proposed route (see CG), and issues.


The route Nagano believes is best is Plan A, which runs from Karatsu City in Saga Prefecture, through the remote islands of Iki and Tsushima in Nagasaki Prefecture, through Geoje Island in South Korea, and then on to Busan. The total length is about 250 km, and since it travels over land at Iki Island and Tsushima, the underwater section is estimated to be 150 km. There is also Plan B, which goes directly to Busan without passing through Geoje. Both tunnels are much longer than the Channel Tunnel, which opened in 1994 and is 50 kilometers long, with an undersea section of 38 kilometers. The maximum water depth is around 200 meters, and the ground is soft, making construction difficult.


◆Many issues such as construction costs and security

The total construction cost is expected to be approximately 100 trillion won. The cost from Karatsu to Tsushima will be covered by Japan, the border between Tsushima and Geoje Island will be split 50/50, and the cost from the island to Busan will be covered by South Korea, with Japan paying 70 trillion to 80 trillion won and South Korea paying 20 to 30 trillion won. We will draw up a plan to spend public money on both of them.


Both Japan and South Korea have declining birthrates, and dramatic economic regrowth cannot be expected. Conflicts over historical perceptions are deepening, and some are negative about the tunnels, saying they pose a security risk. Unless there is a clear ripple effect, the people of both countries will not be satisfied.


Nagano and others argue that if trains such as Shinkansen trains running at speeds of 300 km/h were inserted through the tunnel, Fukuoka and Busan could be connected in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and Osaka and Seoul in about 4 and a half hours.


◆ Expectations for improvement in national sentiment

Mr. Seo said, ``This will be a land route for Japan to connect not only to South Korea, but also to North Korea, Russia, and Europe.In the past, Britain and France did not have good feelings among each other's people, but they built a cooperative relationship through the tunnel connection. ``This should be used as a conduit for peaceful dialogue not only with Japan and South Korea, but also with North Korea and other countries in the process of increasing economic benefits.''


In the 1980s, the tunnel concept was strongly promoted by the late founder of the Divine Spiritual Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church) (currently the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification), a South Korean religious organization known for its mass weddings. There is also evidence that related organizations have carried out test drilling.


Mr. Nagano said, ``Rather than denying it just because a religious group was involved, we should make a selection.Even among political figures, there are people who are enthusiastic about it, such as former Justice Minister Tazo Nozawa.In the end, the Japanese and South Korean governments will reach an agreement.'' ``We must move forward with government-led organizations taking the lead.''


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Osaka-Seoul in 4 and a half hours ``Japan-Korea undersea tunnel'' suddenly flares up again, sparks opposition in South Korea's Busan mayoral by-election

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