Japan Disasters Highlight Vulnerable Infrastructure
Flooded runways, thousands of passengers stranded and a tanker smashing into an access bridge: last week's typhoon in Japan highlighted the vulnerability of Kansai Airport which serves a region with an economy bigger than Belgium's.
Tokyo, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 12th Sep, 2018 ) :Flooded runways, thousands of passengers stranded and a tanker smashing into an access bridge: last week's typhoon in Japan highlighted the vulnerability of Kansai Airport which serves a region with an economy bigger than Belgium's.
Because of concerns about engine noise, Kansai -- located in the bay of Osaka -- is the world's first airport entirely situated on a huge man-made island, putting it at risk of flooding, tsunamis and typhoons.
Damage to the airport is seen having a dramatic knock-on effect on tourism and trade, as it handles 22 million international passengers per year and 5.3 trillion Yen ($47 billion) of Japan's exports -- more than seven percent of the national total.
"The Osaka region which was hit by the typhoon is about 10.9 percent of Japan's GDP. It's slightly larger than Belgium and about the same as Sweden," noted Kohei Iwahara, economist at Natixis Japan Securities.
"You have the ports affected, Kansai Airport malfunctioning and the question is: how long is it going to last?" asked the expert.
It has operated fewer than 100 flights in total since last Tuesday's typhoon, a far cry from the 400 per day it usually runs in its round-the-clock operation.
Kansai airport has been beset by setbacks from the beginning and has spent vast amounts on protection from the elements -- such as high walls and waterproof barriers -- which proved of limited value when the typhoon struck.
According to Mizuho Securities, the typhoon and an earthquake in the more rural island of Hokkaido has increased the danger of a cut in Japan's GDP, which came in at 0.7 percent on-quarter in April-June.
The disasters cut supply lines and could result in a 0.2-percentage point dip in factory output in the third quarter, Mizuho said.
The 6.6-magnitude Hokkaido quake knocked out the main thermal power plant, causing a total blackout for the three million households on the island and havoc for logistics. The plant will not be fully up and running until at least November.