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Construction Minister Katsutsugu Sekiya said Friday he will ask a ministry panel to consider measures to better reflect local residents’ opinions when building and maintaining roads, ministry sources said.

The panel is to have its first meeting Tuesday. The announcement was made in line with a current trend to seek greater local participation in decisions connected with national projects, the sources said.

The move also goes along with a recommendation made by a government panel on decentralization for increased transparency of the government decision-making process for projects funded by taxpayer money.

However, Sekiya said the ministry does not intend to transfer authority to manage national roads to local governments. “From the viewpoint that the central government is responsible for education and diplomacy, the supervision of major roads should also be done by the government,” Sekiya told an informal Friday morning Cabinet meeting.

The minister told reporters after the meeting that local governments do not have sufficient staff levels to do the job. The national road system amounts to more than 1.5 million km, and overall accounts for only 2 percent of all roads in terms of length but 20 percent in terms of traffic volume and 25 percent in terms of transportation.

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