Press Relations Article

What is the “Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel” concept that connects Kyushu and Busan by rail? Cost of 10 trillion yen, 60% of South Koreans say "necessary"

business journal

April 20, 2021


With relations between Japan and South Korea being said to be at their worst since the end of World War II, the concept of a "Japan-South Korea Undersea Tunnel" is emerging. This is an infrastructure project that connects Kyushu in Japan and Busan in South Korea with an undersea tunnel and runs railways.


It is a grand project with a total distance of more than 200km, which was mentioned by Kim Jong-in, chairman of the Emergency Committee of South Korea's largest opposition party, "People's Power." In the Seoul and Busan mayoral elections held on April 7, candidates from the same party defeated the ruling party candidates. Mr. Kim, who served as the head of the party, has retired, but will the Japan-Korea tunnel concept move forward?


We interviewed Hirofumi Sato, Chairman of the International Highway Foundation, which is promoting the project in Japan.



――Please tell us about the history of the Japan-Korea tunnel concept.


Mr. Hirofumi Sato (hereafter, Sato) In the 1930s, the Ministry of Railways of Japan planned a "Korean Strait Tunnel" from Kyushu to Busan on the Korean Peninsula via Iki and Tsushima, but it was later stopped due to war and other reasons. Did. After the war, Obayashi Corporation, a super general contractor, advocated in 1980.


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


In response to this, the International Highway Construction Agency was established in 1982, the Japan-Korea Tunnel Study Group was established in 1983, and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Japan-Korea Tunnel Karatsu Shaft was held in 1986. In addition, after conducting a nature survey and considering underground routes, we purchased land in Karatsu, Iki, and Tsushima. Currently, the Karatsu inclined shaft has stopped, but from now on, the main work will be the Tsushima inclined shaft construction, where the groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2014.


Since the construction of the Japan-South Korea tunnel will cost about 10 trillion yen, it is necessary to proceed in a way that the people of both Japan and South Korea agree. This foundation was established in 2009 with the aim of arousing national public opinion. In addition, in 2018, 47 prefectures formed the "Japan-Korea Tunnel Promotion Prefectural Council" in conjunction with this movement with the national movement, and are working to gain the understanding of the people.



-- 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 believe that by working together toward the major goal of creating a tunnel that connects the two countries, we can improve mutual understanding and resolve historical issues. thinking about. Now, instead of taking the stance of doing nothing because Japan-South Korea relations are bad, we should discuss behind-the-scenes the Japan-South Korea tunnel concept, which will serve as a basis for improving relations, precisely because it is a bad time.


A public opinion poll conducted in South Korea two years ago showed that about 60% of respondents said that it was necessary. I am aware that there are opinions in Japan such as "why do we need a tunnel that leads to South Korea?" positioned as a business.



――Is it technically difficult?


Sato: Basically, I think the technology used to excavate the Seikan Tunnel will be sufficient. The problem that is currently known is the thick unconsolidated layer between Tsushima and Korea (Tsushima West Channel). The construction method must be considered after fully ascertaining the state of the unconsolidated layer and geological properties. Sufficient consideration of construction methods is also required for other sections. If you do them well, it shouldn't be too difficult.



――What do you think about the current Japan-Korea confrontation?


Sato: We should learn this from the Joseon envoys of the Edo period. At that time, the Tsushinshi visited Japan 12 times, which provided an opportunity for Japan and Korea to deepen exchanges. I believe that the Japan-Korea Tunnel will become a modern-day Korean envoy. For that reason, I think that the Japan-Korea tunnel construction project needs to be continued.


In Kan Kikuchi's novel "Beyond the Gratitude", the grudge melts as the enemies dig a tunnel together. It took 30 years for the Ao no Tunnel in Oita Prefecture, which was the model for the novel, to open. I believe that it will help melt the relationship of kindness and revenge.


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What is the “Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel” concept that connects Kyushu and Busan by rail? Cost of 10 trillion yen, 60% of South Koreans say "necessary"

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