東京スカイツリー 世界一の塔が日本を元気に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 22, 2012)
World's tallest tower will invigorate Japan
東京スカイツリー 世界一の塔が日本を元気に(5月21日付・読売社説)

At long last, Tokyo Skytree will officially open on Tuesday.

Its height is 634 meters, nearly double that of Tokyo Tower. It is the world's tallest freestanding broadcasting tower. Views from the two observation decks, at 350 meters and 450 meters above the ground, must surely take every visitor's breath away. We would like to celebrate the opening of a structure that Japan can boast about to the world.

While construction was still going on in March last year, the Great East Japan Earthquake rocked Tokyo Skytree, which had nearly attained its ultimate height. However, no workers were injured and there was no damage to the tower itself. Construction steadily continued, and the tree's height reached 634 meters a week later.


Symbol of overcoming ordeals

The incident demonstrated the reliability of Japan's earthquake-resistant construction technology. It also reinforced the image in many minds of Japan and the Japanese not yielding to difficulties.

Just as many people remember Tokyo Tower as a symbol of the rapid economic growth period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, so may Tokyo Skytree become a new symbol of the present period, when Japan and the Japanese are overcoming ordeals of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Tokyo Skytree embodies the best of Japan's construction technologies from the past to the present.

Materials made with cutting-edge technologies and fine techniques of craftsmanship, such as steel pipes that distort very little even if they are piled up sky-high, were chosen from all over the country in a strict selection process.

As the tower was constructed on a relatively small piece of land, its cross-sectional shape changes from an equilateral triangle at the base to a circle higher up. Here, shapes called "sori" and "mukuri," seen in temple and shrine construction and the design of Japanese swords, were utilized.

The use of a "shimbashira" cylindrical central column to dampen earthquake vibrations is taken from the technique used in Japanese five-story pagodas.

It has been reported that those who were involved in the construction of the Skytree engaged in the work with a zeal to surpass their engineering forebears who constructed Tokyo Tower. Their own efforts are now destined to become a similar target for engineers in the future.

Tokyo Skytree is scheduled to take over the role of transmitting TV and radio waves from Tokyo Tower as early as January next year.


Big economic effect

Annual visitors to Tokyo Skytree and its related facilities are expected to number 32 million. The ward office of Sumida Ward, Tokyo, where the tree is located, estimates the economic ripple effect of the facilities will be 88 billion yen in the ward alone.

Around the Skytree, new tourism spots have arisen one after another, including the Tokyo Gate Bridge. We think many foreign sightseers will be attracted by the synergy of the Skytree and the other facilities.

However, although so many people are expected to visit Tokyo Skytree and its related facilities, infrastructure in the surrounding environment, such as sidewalks and train stations, has not been made fully ready for the opening.

The Tokyo metropolitan government, the Sumida Ward Office and Tokyo Skytree officials should make every effort to prevent accidents and turmoil from occurring.

People's faces naturally turn upward when they approach the Skytree. We hope it will become a new strong base to invigorate the entire nation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 21, 2012)
(2012年5月21日01時52分 読売新聞)

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