Japan: Down the Tube

A tunnel to nowhere

"Yon, san, ni, ichi',"went the countdown last week, "four, three, two, one." At "zero," Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone aimed a glove-covered finger at a button in his Tokyo residence. The prime-ministerial pressure detonated a dynamite charge 440 miles north of Tokyo and 780 ft. beneath the Tsugaru Strait, which separates Honshu and Hokkaido islands. The blast blew away the final rock separating two pilot tunnels under the strait that have been boring toward each other for the past 18 years.

When the project is completed in three years,...

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