• Kyodo News

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The government will make 50 sections on 37 highways, mostly in rural areas, toll-free under a pilot program to take effect at midnight June 27, transport minister Seiji Maehara said.

All cars will be covered by the program until the end of March, regardless of whether they are equipped with electronic toll charge devices, transport officials said.

The transport ministry has already given up its idea of introducing a controversial new fee system this month to cap tolls at ¥2,000 for cars, while eliminating many existing discounts, including the ¥1,000 cap on the weekends and national holidays for cars equipped with ETC devices.

Costing ¥100 billion, the pilot program will cover 1,652 km, or about 20 percent of all expressways in Japan, and is aimed at studying the effects on traffic and local economies, Maehara said.

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