Bridging the Islands: A Miracle Tool or Burdensome Legacy?

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Kyoko UEDA, Sophia University, Japan
A purpose of this paper is to discuss the functions of a massive concrete-made bridge for an isolated island. As soon as an island is bridged, does the island become no longer geographically isolated, nor remote? Or does a bridge make an island even more periphery to lose its sovereignty in exchange for its traffic efficiency? This paper poses a question that if there’s any correlation between the topographic isolation and the local autonomy by analyzing cases of two bridged islands in Okinawa, Southern part of Japan.

 How does the bridge change the society? What are the functions of bridge other than to improve the traffic efficiency for an island? As a case study, this paper will refer to small islands called Yagaji and Kouri, placed in Okinawa prefecture of Japan. These islands, including another between them, were bridged from 1953 one by one untill 2010.

After opening of the bridge in 2005 in Kouri island, the elementary school, a clinic, and the public port to get on the ferry, the busiest places in the island, have disappeared. They were, institutionally, no longer needed inside of the island after the bridging because they are replaced by the better and larger ones beyond the bridge.

This paper will discuss the socio-cultural effect of the concrete-made bridge especially for a small island. Their geographical features and four bridges would show us clearly enough to understand the difficulties imposed on the islanders in exchange for the traffic convenience brought by the bridge.