The Finance Ministry said Friday it will begin a pilot project next month to have eight customs-house branches at seven major cargo ports remain open on weekends and adopt longer business hours on weekdays.

Under the project, eight branches will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays and 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, a ministry official said.

Customs houses are usually closed on weekends and national holidays, and open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays.

The pilot project is part of efforts to make ports more user-friendly amid intensifying competition from Asia and charges by users that Japan’s ports are inconvenient.

The project will run from Oct. 15 to March 31. The ministry said it will decide whether to continue the longer business hours after the trial period.

The program covers Oi in Tokyo, Honmoku in Yokohama, Seibu in Nagoya, Nannko in Osaka, Port Island and Rokko Island in Kobe, and Tanoura in Moji and Hakata, both in Fukuoka Prefecture.

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