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The presidents of seven Japan Railway group companies told a governmental committee Wednesday they cannot afford to shoulder any more of the 28 trillion yen in debts left by the former Japanese National Railways.

The prime minister’s Conference on Fiscal Structural Reform held a hearing for the JR group presidents intending to persuade the firms to bear more of the debts carried over from the former JNR, from whose privatization the firms were born.

The government is proposing that JR companies finance part of the pension costs for former employees of the now-defunct firm, as well as the issuance of interest-free bonds with JR discount tickets. “We told the committee that it would be impossible for the JR companies to shoulder any more burden in any forms. We have already been taking responsibility,” said Masatake Matsuda, president of Japan Railway East, during a press conference after the hearing.

The JR group companies inherited 14.5 trillion yen of the 37.1 trillion yen in debt from the former JNR in accordance with the framework for its privatization. The remaining debt was transferred to the semigovernmental JNR Settlement Corp. The JR group companies still have about 12.5 trillion yen of their inherited debt left to pay off, Matsuda said.

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