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Japan-Korea Tunnel could generate billions in revenue, analyst says

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan-Korea Tunnel could generate billions in revenue, analyst says
A Japanese study finds a massive tunnel project connecting South Korea’s second largest city, Busan, to Japan, could boost both economies. File Photo by Yonhap

July 6 (UPI) -- An undersea tunnel connecting Japan to South Korea could bring massive economic benefits, according to a Japanese analyst.

Toshiyasu Noda, a professor in the department of law at Seinan Gakuin University, said a tunnel that connects to Japan's southern island of Kyushu could bring annual operating profits for logistics to about $2 billion, the Nagasaki Shimbun reported Friday.

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Toll revenue alone could draw about $3.7 billion in annual revenue, Noda said, using comparative numbers from the Channel Tunnel that links France and Britain.

The Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel has been discussed intermittently for decades but became a serious consideration in 2008, when 10 Japanese lawmakers set up a committee to pursue the project.

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The tunnel could potentially connect Kyushu to Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, via the Japanese islands of Iki and Tsushima.

The tunnel would be around 80 miles long.

Noda's study assumes construction begins in 2020 and the tunnel opens in 2030.

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His numbers include estimates of cargo traffic from South Korea, Russia and China.

Annually more than 32 million tons of cargo would pass through the tunnel, the study shows.

Construction cost for the tunnel is estimated to be more than $90 billion, with about $36 billion coming from a joint investment fund between Seoul and Tokyo, and the rest to be borrowed, hypothetically, at 1 percent interest that would be repaid to lenders between 35 and 50 years.

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The Japanese press report did not cover any impact North Korea economic reform would have on the potential project.

In South Korea, analysts have been discussing future developments in the North, should Pyongyang continue to cooperate with Seoul.

New "tourist routes, railroads and airports" could open soon, Park Hyun-sun, a professor at Ewha Womans University, said at a seminar in the National Assembly building, News 1 reported Friday.

Kaesong should be developed into a base for inter-Korea tourism, Park said.

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