The nation’s regional expressway operators are giving motorists a helping hand for the summer holidays by capping gasoline prices along highways at 137 yen per liter for August.

The move, which is aimed at preventing price-gouging, is likely to prompt drivers to fill up on the expressways rather than in cities during the Bon holidays, industry watchers say.

On Monday, the average retail price of a liter of regular gasoline nationwide shot to 143.7 yen — the highest on record since Japan started recording gas prices in 1987.

Thanks to the cap, gasoline and diesel fuel sold at all highway service stations except in Okinawa will stay under 137 yen per liter for August.

The system, arranged by such highway operators as East Nippon Expressway Co., Central Nippon Expressway Co. and West Nippon Expressway Co., requires that service stations on highways set their prices at what the average nationwide gas price in the cities was in the latter half of July.

Thus as gasoline prices soar in the cities, it will make highway gas prices look that much cheaper.

National gas prices rose 6.3 yen on average Monday from a week ago as the major oil refiners hiked wholesale prices of petroleum products to compensate for the continuing rise in crude oil.

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