Japan plans to work with Hong Kong and Singapore to develop a common pass for trains and buses, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said Friday.

The initiative “is intended to build a common system within Asia and thereby to help draw foreign tourists and to promote exchanges,” transport minister Chikage Ogi said.

The plan is to develop a card containing an integrated circuit chip linked to a bank account from which transportation fees will be deducted in the relevant currency, according to the ministry.

Various forms of prepaid IC cards are used in the three countries. East Japan Railway Co. has roughly 5 million users in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Hong Kong has issued 12 million IC cards and Singapore 7 million.

A postpaid IC card is scheduled for introduction in Sapporo early next year by a subway operator on an experimental basis. The transport ministry plans to help introduce the card on a railway in western Japan in 2003.

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