• Kyodo News

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A powerful joint panel of Diet members and experts gave the infrastructure ministry permission Monday to build four expressway sections in Tokyo and other areas, signaling a possible revival in large-scale public works.

The approval allows the ministry to upgrade the basic development plans for the four sections, which will pave the way for their construction. It is the first time the key panel has given permission to upgrade a highway project in 10 years.

The sections the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry plans to upgrade include the Tokyo Outer Ring Road’s 16-km section between Setagaya and Nerima, as well as a 12-km section of the Nagoya Kanjo No. 2 loop line between Nagoya-Nishi and Tobishima.

The two other sections are in Yamagata and Ibaraki prefectures.

New expressway construction was restricted after former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi froze such projects under reforms he spearheaded while in office from 2001 to 2006.

But loss of jobs caused by the deep recession is leading the government and the ruling coalition to review that policy before the House of Representatives election that must be held by the fall.

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