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Building bridges: Russia wants to build 45km bridge with Japan

Building bridges: Russia wants to build 45km bridge with Japan

If there’s one thing you can’t fault President Putin for its his ambition. Under his watch, Russia has poured trillions of roubles into major infrastructure construction projects.


Now, Putin has another in the pipeline: a 45km bridge between Russia and Japan.


According to the TASS news agency, Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok: “We are planning to build a bridge on Sakhalin that would connect it to Hokkaido.”


Sakhalin, out in Russia’s Far East, is a large island in the Pacific, and has an interesting history. Soviet troops fully seized the island in the wake of the Second World War.


Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan’s main islands.


Putin said that better relations between Russia and Japan “could lead to significant changes in infrastructure, energy, and high technology”.


Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, also speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum, said work on join infrastructure will create a “completely different context for the Kurils”.


Mr Shuvalov added that the Sakhalin-Hokkaido bridge across the 42km La Pérouse Strait could be built in the “foreseeable future”.


The Kurils, another Pacific island chain, are a big bone of contention between both Japan and Russia. The Soviet Union seized the islands in 1945, after declaring war on Japan.


Russo-Japanese relations in the Pacific have been less than stellar since the end of that globe-spanning conflict. A peace treaty between the two states was never signed after the fighting stopped, leaving the legal status of Sakhalin and the Kurils to become a major diplomatic point for both nations.


Putin’s planned megaprojects seek to alleviate some of these issues by fostering technological, trade, and construction collaboration between the two states.


Linking Sakhalin to Hokkaido has been proposed before. In 2000, the idea was floated to build a tunnel, similar to the Channel Tunnel connecting France and the UK, between the two islands. Although, as of 2017, this was never seriously explored as a viable option.


Russia’s Far East, including Sakhalin Island, is shaping up to be the next Russian frontier for international businesses to explore. Blessed with huge natural resources, the region is quickly being developed.


Will Putin’s bridge building efforts, both metaphorically and physically, pay off? The Russian President is to meet his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Vladivostok later in September to discuss the idea further.


The design phase, if this project ever gets off the grounds, is far in the future. Maybe the architects and engineers involved can find inspiration in WorldBuild365’s pick of five of the best bridges worldwide?


Image: Tikhaya Bay, Sakhalin Island

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