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Science / Medicine : Japanese Hope to Build a City in Pacific Ocean

October 12, 1987|GEORGE JAHN | Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The head of Japan's prestigious Science Council says his country is looking for someone to build a city standing on pillars in the Pacific Ocean for homes for up to a million people.

There have been no firm offers yet, although there have been some expressions of interest, said Jiro Kondo, president of the council, which has completed a feasibility study of the project and hopes someone will build it in exchange for real estate rights.

"We are expecting to build the whole construction in 10 years," at a cost of about $200 million, he said.

Kondo was here recently to attend a two-day symposium at MIT called "The Oceans in the 21st Century: Bringing Advanced Technology to the Ocean Industries."

He said planners are looking at sites 50 miles to 100 miles south of Tokyo, at a depth of 430 to 495 feet.

The metropolis, dubbed Information City, would be supported by 10,000 pillars.

"Typhoons would not be a problem, because the huge waves can pass through easily," said Kondo. "However, in the case of earthquakes, the pillars should absorb the shock, so shock absorption devices are introduced in these pillars."

16 Square Miles Total

He said the project would have four layers, with a total area of 16 square miles. The top layer would be landscaped and have recreational facilities and an airport. Below that would be service and high-technology industry, followed by a residential layer and the bottom layer with utilities.

Planners do not anticipate problems in finding potential residents because of skyrocketing land prices and the great transportation problems that commuters face on the mainland, Kondo said.

Others attending the conference said Japan's search for more space gives it a valid reason for wanting to build such a project. It has 840 people per square mile; in contrast, California, roughly the same size, has 169 people for every square mile.

Because of that high population density, land in the central district of Tokyo costs $30,000 per square foot. While Japan's land area is only 3% that of the United States, its total land value is about $8 trillion, more than twice that of the United States.

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