Emperor Akihito hints at abdication

Emperor Akihito in 2014
Emperor Akihito in 2014. Photo: William Ng, US State Department

In only his second televised speech ever, Akihito, the emperor of Japan, hinted that he may want to be able to abdicate sometime in the future due to his advanced age and declining health. The Japanese constitution in its current form bars the emperor from abdicating, meaning that a change would be necessary in order to allow Akihito to step down in favour of the crown prince Naruhito.

While the opinion of the public seem to be that the emperor should be allowed to retire and formally abdicate, there is considerably more resistance to such a change in the current government led by the Liberal Democratic Party and in particular among its conservative minor coalition partner party.

Akihito, now 82 years old, has been emperor since 1989 when he succeeded his father emperor Hirohito (Showa) on the chrysanthemum throne.

Helsinki-Stockholm hyperloop

FS Links, a consortium dedicated to lay the foundation work for the use of hyperloop technology in northern Europe, has presented a pre-feasability study on how the Finnish and Swedish capital cities Helsinki and Stockholm could be connected by a hyperloop network. A connection that would reduce travel time down to approximately 28 minutes! The construction cost would be an estimated 19 billion euro, which at a first glance sounds like a lot of money, but in comparison to some estimates recently published for a conventional high-speed railway connecting Sweden’s three biggest city it actually no longer feel all that extreme. Of course this is all a very early study and not a formal prospect.

Helsinki-Stockholm hyperlink proposal
Helsinki-Stockholm hyperlink (Source: Golem.de)

Sources: Golem.de and Hyperloop-One.com

World’s longest tunnel is inaugurated

The Gotthard Base Tunnel had its official inauguration ceremony on June 1. Even if normal traffic will not start until December.

With a length of 57.5 km it is the current record-holder of longest tunnel, overtaking the earlier longest tunnel – Japanese Seikan tunnel between the tho islands of Honshu and Hokkaido – which is 53.9 km. The new Gotthard tunnel is simultaneously the world’s deepest tunnel with 2.3 km of mountain above its deepest point.

Source: BBC News

Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia to be protected

After long negotiations there has been what is hailed as a landmark deal in the efforts to protect one of western Canada’s most magnificent landscapes and its flora and fauna for the future.

The temperate forests is rather unique to the North American west coast and in the Great Bear Rainforest lives among other species the spirit bears – a rare subspecies of the grizzly bear with white fur instead of the common brown-black.

Source: BBC News

A future tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn?

Architect composite depiction of rail connection
Architect composite depiction (Sweco).

A preliminary feasibility study on a tunnel between the Finnish capital Helsinki and the Estonian capital of Tallinn concludes that the future construction of such a connection is worth more study.

A rail transport connection between the two cities would include the construction of a tunnel under the Gulf of Finland at a current cost estimate of 9 to 13 billion euros.

Source: YLE