Technology: Japan's Underground Frontier

Proposed subterranean cities could help ease a space crunch

Underground. The word brings many unsavory adjectives to mind: dark, dank, clandestine, illegal. But in Japan the "underground" is becoming the new frontier and the best hope for solving one of the country's most intractable problems. With a population nearly half the size of the U.S.'s squeezed into an area no bigger than Montana, Japan has virtually no room left in its teeming cities. Developers have built towering skyscrapers and even artificial islands in the sea, but the space crunch keeps getting worse. Now some of Japan's largest construction companies think they have an answer: huge developments beneath the earth's surface...

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