National Route 322 Hatchotoge Road (4.5 km) which connects Kama City and Asakura City and includes ‘Hatcho Tunnel’ (3.8 km, the longest tunnel in Fukuoka Prefecture) opened yesterday, November 16. Twenty years had passed since the establishment of the committee to construct this road, and 13 years since the start of the construction. It was indeed an extensive work. Its regional, economic, and social impact is immeasurable. Under a cloudless blue sky in fall, the opening ceremony of the Hatchotoge Road was held with a local dance, the tape-cutting, and the first people’s walking inside the tunnel at the entrance of the ‘Hatcho Tunnel’ on the Kama City side, and later on, there was a reception in Asakura City. It was a memorable event for me.
This opening ceremony reminds me of the following two events.
Firstly, it is noted that the late Mr. Taro Yoshihara, the then Chairman of the Fukuoka Prefectural Assembly, had contributed greatly to the promotion of constructing the ‘Hatcho Tunnel’ throughout his life until he passed away in early 2018. His widow and her family attended the opening ceremony carrying a portrait of the late Mr. Yoshihara. In March 2017, when the ceremony of the penetration of the tunnel was held, Mr. Yoshihara and I planned to invite Mr. Nobuaki Sato, who substantially proposed the idea of constructing this tunnel, to our drinking party to express our gratitude. Mr. Sato, who is Former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, is currently a member of the Liberal Democratic Party and also a member of the House of Councilors. Since it is now impossible to fulfill the plan, I will report the opening ceremony to Mr. Sato, and will have a small gathering with him so that the late Mr. Yoshihara can join us from heaven.
Secondly, I was born in Kama City (Former Yamada City), and presently I am carrying out my political activities at headquarters in Asakura City. In my speech at the opening ceremony, I mentioned, “Although this is my personal affairs, the Hatchotoge Road has become a special road for me to connect my two home towns, Kama City and Asakura City.” My speech received applause and laughter from the audience. After the ceremony finished, Mr. Isao Kurauchi, Former Chaiman of the Federation of Fukuoka Prefecture Liberal Democratic Party Branches, teased me saying, “In short, it is Harada Tunnel, right?” He got me.