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Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday that he will review the metropolis’ practice of selling its old buses to countryside operators from an environmental viewpoint, following a report last week that criticized the transaction.

The transportation bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been selling off its fleet of buses to cash-strapped bus operators following the central government’s adoption of tougher standards for nitrogen oxide emissions.

The bureau was also planning to sell buses that do not meet its own tough regulations on diesel vehicles, which take effect in October 2003.

Ishihara, who learned of the practice from a report by The Japan Times, defended the deals by saying it was the operators who asked Tokyo to sell the buses at discount prices. According to a third-sector company commissioned for the deals, the old buses are sold for about 430,000 yen each.

“It is not that Tokyo is getting rid of something that should not be used in the countryside,” he said. “It is the decision of the rural operators, which, given their financial situation and their concern for residents’ convenience, asked us to sell the buses. Tokyo is also in financial straits.”

Yet, Ishihara admitted that exporting environmentally substandard buses to the countryside should not continue unchecked.

“I don’t think money means everything. Sometimes we should sacrifice financial benefit for the sake of the cause.”

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