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Politics

Can Japan survive mass tourism?

James Bond never had to wait for a cancellation on the sightseeing boat, but I did. Our destination was the same -- Hashima, a tiny island off Nagasaki that once housed a thriving mining town. This bizarre ruin -- also known as Gunkanjima, or "Battleship Island," on account of its shape -- was the inspiration for the villain's lair in the 007 movie "Skyfall." Last year, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it a popular destination in the new genre of "industrial tourism." 

     Bond traveled by fast yacht in the company of a glamorous female agent. Unlike me, he did not have to contend with hordes of tourists hellbent on a whistle-stop tour of the island -- a cruise ship had arrived overnight from Shanghai and docked near my hotel. The Italian-owned Costa Serena is not so much a boat as a floating city, with 12 decks that give her the height of a 23-story building, a spa the size of a soccer field and a cargo of 3,700 human souls, all determined to maximize their brief Nagasaki experience. By the next day, it had been replaced by another craft of the same type.

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