• Kyodo News

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The annual exodus of Bon summer holiday travelers to their ancestral hometowns and resorts began Saturday, causing long expressway traffic jams nationwide.

Expressway operators anticipate jams of 10 km or longer occurring a record 596 times during the Aug. 5-18 Bon season in the wake of the government’s launch in late June of a pilot program scrapping tolls on 50 sections of 37 rural expressways.

Congestion was reported in at least 20 locations in the morning, including on the Chugoku Expressway in Hyogo Prefecture with a 38-km jam and Kan-Etsu Expressway in Saitama Prefecture with a 37-km jam.

The tieups are also abetted by the existing discount service of setting a maximum toll of ¥1,000 for electronic toll collection system users on weekends in the nontoll-free zones during the pilot program, which runs until next March.

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