A "Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel" connecting Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula was proposed after Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910, but it has not been realized even after a century. Although the plan has turned into a phantom, South Korea's conservative opposition party has raised a fever that it will consider construction before the mayoral by-election in April. While Japan-Korea relations have deteriorated, the administration is negative, but is it a complete pipe dream? (Seoul / Aisaka Minoru)
``We will actively consider the construction of an undersea tunnel between Korea and Japan. In early February, a senior official of South Korea's largest opposition party, "People's Power," visited Busan ahead of the by-election for the mayor of Busan. is.
A spokesperson for the ruling Democratic Party said, “The Korea-Japan tunnel is a ‘pro-Japanese’ agenda item that will increase Japan’s interests. is irresponsible," he criticized. The chairman of the party's policy committee sarcastically said, "The only benefit we can get from the tunnel is to drive to Japan."
Japanese and South Korean researchers, who have been promoting the undersea tunnel for many years, look at these exchanges between the ruling and opposition parties with mixed eyes.
A former president of South Korea's Busan University of Foreign Studies said, "The tunnel should be promoted as a long-term project between nations. It is not desirable for the ruling party to use the opposition party as pro-Japanese and attack it." Shinichiro Nagano, professor emeritus at Daito Bunka University, also argued, "This is a project that should be carried out as part of national policy. If it's serious, it should be a presidential campaign pledge, not a by-election for mayor." He explained the history of the concept, the proposed route (see CG), and the challenges.
Mr. Nagano thinks the best route is Plan A, which starts from Karatsu City in Saga Prefecture, passes through Iki and Tsushima in the remote islands of Nagasaki Prefecture, and goes through Korea's Geoje Island, etc., to Busan. With a total length of about 250 kilometers, the submarine section is estimated at 150 kilometers as it travels on land at Iki Island and Tsushima. There is also Plan B, which goes directly to Busan without going through Geoje. Both are much longer than the English Channel Tunnel, which opened in 1994 (50 km, with a submarine section of 38 km). The maximum water depth is around 200 meters, and the ground is soft, making construction difficult.
The total construction cost is expected to be about 100 trillion won. Japan will bear the cost from Dangjin to Tsushima, the boundary between Tsushima and Geoje Island will be shared equally, and the South Korean side will bear the cost from the island to Busan. Draw a plan to expend public funds for both.
Both Japan and South Korea are facing declining birthrates, and dramatic regrowth of the economy cannot be expected. Conflict over historical perceptions has deepened, and there are negative voices that the tunnel poses a security risk. If there is no definite ripple effect, the people of both countries will not be convinced.
Nagano and others argue that if a 300-kilometer-per-hour Shinkansen or other train runs through the tunnel, Fukuoka and Busan can be connected in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and Osaka and Seoul in about 4.5 hours.
Suh said, “Japan will become a route that connects not only South Korea but also North Korea, Russia, and Europe by land. In the past, British and French people had bad feelings toward each other, but they built a cooperative relationship through the tunnel connection. In addition to Japan and South Korea, it should be used as a channel for peace dialogue with North Korea and other countries in the process of increasing economic effects."
In the 1980s, the tunnel concept was strongly promoted by the deceased founder of the Korean religious group "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church)" (now the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification), known for mass weddings. There is also a history of exploratory drilling by related groups.
Nagano said, "We shouldn't deny the fact that religious groups were involved, but we should pick and choose. Among politicians, there are some enthusiastic people, such as former Minister of Justice Taizou Nozawa. Ultimately, the Japanese and South Korean governments will agree." , we must proceed mainly through government-led organizations."
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