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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 October 1 - 7  > Stop and think if maglev Shinkansen will really enrich our lives
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2014 October 1 - 7 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
column 

Stop and think if maglev Shinkansen will really enrich our lives

October 1, 2014
Akahata ‘current’ column

The Shinkansen, or “dreamlike super-express trains”, started operations 50 years ago on the Tokyo-Osaka route. Its network has spread across the country from Aomori to Kyushu. A total of 5.5 billion passengers have used Shinkansen lines in the past half century.

In the meantime, more and more conventional lines are disappearing, deepening the problem of depopulation in rural areas and widening city-rural gaps. Many local towns are facing economic downturns. Both the country’s population and commercial activities have become increasingly concentrated in large urban areas.

The relentless expansion of the Shinkansen network often came under attack due to both economic and environmental concerns. Nevertheless, the plan to construct a maglev Shinkansen line is now being set into motion.

In the Maglev Exhibition Center in Yamanashi, visitors can see test runs of the world’s fastest bullet train and can see a rosy picture of the benefits associated with its introduction. The new “dreamlike Shinkansen” project is, however, arousing concerns and questions about its safety, environmental damage related to tunnels through mountains, and its high construction cost estimated at nine trillion yen.

It is time to stop and think if the high concentration of population and industry in large cities will actually bring about an overall positive effect on Japan’s future and if the ultrahigh-speed movements of humans and goods will enrich society as a whole.
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