The assets of the nation’s four major highway-related public corporations were greater than their debts by a combined 5.95 trillion yen, with only one of them suffering a negative net worth, according to their balance sheets released Monday.

The four highway constructors and administrators are Japan Highway Public Corp., Metropolitan Expressway Public Corp., Hanshin Expressway Public Corp. and the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority.

The financial statements attest that three of the four have a net worth in positive territory. The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority has a negative net worth of 980 billion yen.

On Dec. 6, the Promotion Committee for the Privatization of the Four Highway-Related Public Corporations urged a strict limit on the construction of new highways.

The panel urged the limit in light of large budget deficits and taxpayers’ ire over wasteful outlays associated with public works projects. Critics of the panel meanwhile denounced the recommendations, saying road construction serves the long-term interests of the public and aids the economy.

The financial documents were computed as of March 31 in accordance with accounting rules similar to those applied when examining the financial conditions of private-sector companies. Some members of the advisory council opposed to highway construction meanwhile questioned the accuracy of the balance sheets released by the government.

Observers of the highway issue have been keenly awaiting the release of the calculations, especially because the amount of the assets held by Japan Highway has been under scrutiny. The 28.54 trillion yen in debts faced by the nation’s biggest highway builder was highlighted in a national debate on the fate of the four.

But the results showed that Japan Highway has assets of 34.3 trillion yen, giving it 5.76 trillion yen in positive net worth — the difference between its assets and debts.

The amounts of the assets and debts at the highway builder will be examined in determining the appropriateness of allowing the entity to continue highway construction after it is privatized.

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