A grand project to build a 23-kilometer tunnel for the Yamagata Shinkansen is underway.

In October, Yamagata Prefecture and East Japan Railway signed a memorandum of understanding for construction of the tentatively named Yonezawa Tunnel — between Niwasaka in the city of Fukushima and Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture — on the JR Ou Line.

Looming over the move are the harsh conditions of Itaya Pass straddling Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures, which is battered by heavy snow in winter and carries risks of other natural disasters.