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Suffering from an increasing debt burden, Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) voiced opposition Wednesday to the government’s plan to fully privatize six JR group firms at the earliest possible date. During a meeting with Transport Minister Toshihiro Nikai, JR Tokai President Yoshiyuki Kasai said that it is still premature to move to complete privatization, calling on the government to review possible problems that might come up, ministry officials said. East Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co. also attended the meeting and said they support the government’s plan. JR Tokai officials cited the firm’s 5 trillion yen debt, which was incurred when it bought shinkansen lines between Tokyo and Osaka in 1991, as one major reason for its opposition to the plan. The six railway companies were created through the privatization of Japanese National Railways in 1987. With their legal status designated as “special corporations,” they must seek the government’s approval when drawing up business plans and selecting presidents. Nikai is hoping to submit a bill to fully privatize JR Tokai, JR West and JR East to the next ordinary Diet session.

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