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ILC2021 Japan, Session III – The International Highway Project and the Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel

Tokyo, Japan—The third session of UPF-Japan’s July International Leadership Conference 2021 (ILC2021) convened on July 17, under the theme, “Opening the Era of Pacific Civilization: International Highway Project and Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel.” One-hundred and sixty (160) people, including members of the House of Representatives of Japan and experts from various fields, joined the event on Zoom and in-person while more than 200 watched it live on YouTube.

Following a video presentation about the Japan-Korea Tunnel Project, Mr. Masayoshi Kajikuri, chairman of the International Highway Construction Foundation and chairman of UPF-Japan, gave a speech on “The Japan-Korea Tunnel: An International Highway for a Trans-Pacific Civilization.”

Mr. Kajikuri began his talk by highlighting the significance of the project: it should not only be seen as the construction of a tunnel between two countries but a means to build peace and prosperity in Asia and for humankind. However, he said that he could not speak further without acknowledging Japanese and Korean sentiment and expressed that in order for both countries to share a common perspective on history and civilization, it is necessary for Japan to confront past issues and understand the wounded feelings of the people of Korea.

Regarding world affairs, Mr. Kajikuri touched on the G7 summit held in the U.K. in June and how the leaders of the G7 countries were in alignment, which was demonstrated in a joint declaration they issued at the end of the meeting (called the Carbis Bay G7 Summit Communiqué). In the statement, they underscore the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait amid China’s rise and affirm that they will develop a new partnership to “build back better for the world”—which will invest in the infrastructure of developing countries and support clean and green growth to counter China’s mega-economic Belt and Road Initiative.

He also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged at a crux in history and said that past pandemics such as the Black Death and the Spanish flu had cast shadows at turning points in the history of civilization.  He went on to emphasize that the future of the world is at a crossroad between becoming an era of Pax Sinica, centered on China, and realizing Pax Pacifica, which aims for the peaceful civilization of the Pacific Rim region.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Kajikuri made it clear that now is the time to come up with a national vision based on a bird’s eye view of history and the situation of the world. Moreover, he asked for understanding of the following matters espoused by Ambassadors for Peace: 1) building family-based economic and social systems; 2) strengthening maritime policies and the Pacific Ocean Alliance; 3) making active contributions to the peace and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region; 4) fostering deep cultural exchange among Japan, the U.S. and South Korea; and 5) building the Japan-Korea tunnel.

The program continued with Mr. Yuzo Takeuchi, former deputy director of the Seikan Tunnel Tappi Office and chairman of the Japan-Korea Tunnel Technical Committee of the International Highway Foundation, giving a technical report on the feasibility of the Japan-Korea tunnel. After explaining how the Japanese archipelago was formed, Mr. Takeuchi introduced the background of the Seikan Tunnel, a major undersea tunnel project in Japan in which he has been involved. He shared that the project has contributed to development of the construction technology for long undersea tunnels. Mr. Takeuchi concluded by saying that it would be possible to realize the Japan-Korea tunnel by making full use of the current technology and spoke about the current status and future prospects of the project.

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