Government to spur work to fully reopen Fukushima’s disaster-hit JR Joban Line


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed a willingness Saturday to spur work to fully reopen East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line in Fukushima Prefecture, which was partially closed following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The government is looking at completely reopening the Joban Line in the spring of 2020, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, informed sources said.

“I’ve instructed the transport minister to promptly indicate the timing (of the reopening),” Abe told reporters during a visit to the Fukushima Prefecture town of Naraha near the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The Joban Line’s operator, also known as JR East, has released a plan to reopen in stages by the end of 2017 all shuttered sections but the Tomioka-Namie segment near the nuclear plant.

The prime minister also said that he will instruct the industry minister to set up a public-private panel to start a detailed study this month on a plan to make Fukushima Prefecture a key region for renewable energy production.

“In Fukushima in 2020, hydrogen fuel for 10,000 fuel cell vehicles will be produced from (the use of) renewable energy,” Abe said.

On Saturday, he visited a stock farm in the city of Fukushima, a restaurant using local ingredients in the town of Hirono, a battery factory in Naraha and other facilities.

“The reconstruction of Tohoku is the Abe administration’s top priority,” the prime minister said ahead of the fifth anniversary on Friday of the massive disaster.