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Building the Japanese way

Updated Tuesday, 20th March 2007

Does a Japanese solution to land shortage have an averse effect on sea life?

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From Osaka, Japan.

Kansai Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Mike Dodd

Japan is a very interesting country, it has many similar environmental issues to Britain although the solutions are sometimes rather different. On a recent visit there I was staying with someone who was very concerned about building new land in the sea – what effect does it have on the coastal ecosystems and fisheries. 

I say building rather than ‘reclaiming’ as the Japanese way of doing things often involves demolishing whole mountains and piling the rocks on the seabed to construct new islands such as the one containing Kansai airport. They have built about 300 square km of new islands. 

This is quite different to the methods used for hundreds of years in Europe where areas were enclosed with sea walls then the water pumped out to leave dry land but usually below sea level and which has to be constantly maintained by pumping.

When Kansai airport island was constructed it sunk 8m, some settling was anticipated but not this much, the airport was one of the most expensive to construct not least as it also has to withstand earthquakes and typhoons. It is unclear whether its huge cost will be repaid.

 

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