Press Relations Article

Will the rapidly emerging "Japan-Korea submarine tunnel" concept come true in South Korea? Yoshiro Mori and Ichiro Ozawa were also interested in

business journal

April 21, 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 asked Koichi Yokota, secretary general of the Japan-Korea Tunnel Promotion National Conference.


Was it the Japan-Korea tunnel project that Yoshiro Mori was enthusiastic about at the time?



-- Regarding the Japan-Korea tunnel, please tell us about the actions taken by the governments of both countries so far.


Mr. Koichi Yokota (hereinafter referred to as Yokota) In 2008, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and President Lee Myung-bak held a Japan-Korea summit meeting, and based on the results, a report on the Japan-Korea New Era Joint Research Project was published in 2010. Ta. The same year marked the 100th anniversary of the annexation of Japan and Korea in 1910. The report makes 21 recommendations, one of which is the promotion of undersea tunnels. This is very important.


There is a problem of historical awareness between Japan and South Korea, and relations have deteriorated particularly in recent years, but this is not beneficial not only to the prosperity of both countries but also of Northeast Asia. In South Korea, President Lee announced his national plan for the country in 2009, and over the next 10 years, research has been carried out on infrastructure in Northeast Asia. This is what President Moon Jae-in said on Liberation Day (August 15) in 2018: ``For the peace and prosperity of Northeast Asia, I am committed to bringing together South Korea, North Korea, China, Russia, Mongolia, Japan, and the United States.'' This led to a historic speech in which he said, ``I would like to propose a railway community among six or seven countries.''



--What have been said by the leaders of Japan and South Korea in the past regarding the Japan-Korea tunnel?


Yokota: In the 1990s, when President Roh Tae-woo gave a commemorative speech at the Japanese National Assembly, he said, ``Japanese young people will meet in Seoul through the Japan-Korea Tunnel, and in the end, we will meet in Beijing.'' In addition, Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita once proposed considering excavation from Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.


According to the report on the Japan-Korea New Era Joint Research Project, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori was particularly enthusiastic, and at the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) in October 2000, he created a tunnel to connect Japan and South Korea and called it the ASEM Railway. I am proposing to name it ``. At the summit meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Roh Moo-hyun, the South Korean side proposed building a Japan-South Korea tunnel three times.


I also heard that even in non-Liberal Democratic Party governments, Prime Minister Takeshi Haneda and Prime Minister Naoto Kan mentioned the Japan-Korea tunnel concept, and that Congressman Ichiro Ozawa gave a lecture at a South Korean university that talked about the Japan-Korea tunnel.



--In the Busan mayoral election, the opposition candidate whose top official had mentioned the Japan-Korea tunnel defeated the ruling party and won.


Yokota: Based on these results, there is a possibility that this will emerge as a very big issue within South Korea. It may also become a point of interest in the presidential election to be held in 2022.



――In the first place, is the Japan-Korea tunnel viable as a business? Some people say that it would be a problem if the tunnel became a money grabber.


Yokota: Some business people in Kyushu say that it is not viable as a business, but I think it is a viable project. Currently, there are 26 ports in Japan and 6 ports in South Korea, but it takes 2 to 3 days to transport goods from Yokohama Port or Tokyo Port to Busan Port or Incheon Port. However, if the Japan-Korea tunnel or land route is used, transportation time and costs can be reduced to about one-third.


The Japan-Korea Tunnel Promotion National Conference asked Yoshiyasu Noda, a professor at Seinan Gakuin University's Faculty of Law, who previously served as Director of the Comprehensive Planning Division of the National Land Planning Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, to predict the project for the Japan-Korea Tunnel. When the Japan-Korea Tunnel is completed and cargo is accumulated at Busan Port and then transported to ports such as Shanghai Port, demand is expected to exceed 30 million tons in 2030, and if the cargo is transported by car train through the Japan-Korea Tunnel. The calculation results show that business revenue of 400 billion yen and profit of 223.5 billion yen are expected.


The International Highway Foundation has proposed three routes: one that goes to Busan via Karatsu, Iki, and Tsushima, then Geoje Island, and one that goes directly to Busan. According to the calculation method based on a usage forecast survey, it is expected that the project will be viable as a means of transportation.


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Will the rapidly emerging "Japan-Korea submarine tunnel" concept come true in South Korea? Yoshiro Mori and Ichiro Ozawa were also interested in

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