Tokyo court orders partial suspension of tunnel construction work

A Tokyo court has ordered the state, a highway operator and others to partially halt construction of an underground tunnel in connection with a 2020 cave-in.

The Tokyo District Court issued the decision on Monday on an injunction filed in May 2020.

A group of residents near the construction site argued that the use of a giant cylindrical shield machine for deep earthworks was problematic. The group called for the digging work to be suspended.

Five months later, a cave-in occurred on a road above the construction site in the city of Chofu in Tokyo. The East Nippon Expressway Company suspended construction work.

Tunnel construction was underway on a 16-kilometer stretch on Tokyo’s Outer Ring Road between Tokyo’s Setagaya and Nerima wards.

The highway operator later released the results of a probe that said earthworks may have been one of the causes of the sinkhole.

The operator and others argued in court that there were no problems with the construction method and that steps would be taken to prevent recurrences.

But the court decided that specific preventive measures were lacking and ordered a partial suspension of construction work.

With the latest court decision, the operator of the motorway will not be able to carry out the digging works with the same method of construction in the area close to the abyss.