Japan may waive maglev train technology license fees in deal with U.S.


The government is considering providing Japanese magnetically levitated train system technology to the United States without license fees, a government source said Sunday.

Tokyo is considering the possibility in order to realize a maglev high-speed train service linking Washington and Baltimore, Maryland, the source said.

Japan has also unofficially offered loans worth about ¥500 billion to help bring about the service, which is expected to require about ¥1 trillion in investments.

The government is making arrangements so that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can offer the technological assistance when he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in Tokyo on April 24, according to the source.

The government sees the maglev technology offer as a “symbol of the Japan-U.S. alliance” and is considering the free provision of technology in cooperation with Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), which has been promoting the technology abroad, the source said.

Abe proposed to provide the maglev technology in a meeting with Obama in February last year.

On Saturday, Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy took a ride on a maglev train on JR Central’s test line in Yamanashi Prefecture.

  • zer0_0zor0

    Could be a win-win situation if the deal promotes the development and implementation of the technology.

    A line like that in the USA would lead to a succession of orders for the same in other countries considering setting up high-speed rail lines. Hard to think of better advertising than that…

    • Mike Wyckoff

      This technology has also been tested successfully by the Germans almost 2 decades ago. So I find it hard to believe any other countries would buy into Japan’s tech as opposed to something from the EU.

      • zer0_0zor0

        Didn’t know that. Have they build a system with it?
        If not, why not?

      • Mike Wyckoff

        I believe they decided at the time that it was too costly. But I did see they had a test track similar to the first one in yamagata.

      • Zerp

        The Transrapid. It was jointly developed by Siemens and Thyssen Krupp and funded by the German state until only a few years ago when funding was cut. Today it is still available for purchause but testing and development is cancelled.

        I attribute the lack of interest to the very strong lobbies and powerful companies selling conventional High Speed Rail in Europe.

        It is the only high speed Maglev line in operation today and the first line was built in Shanghai as a link to the airport and opened traffic 10 years ago.

        However that line is not long enough show the true potential at speeds the same as this Japanese lines. The true potential is linking large metropolises together and competing with airtravel at longer distances then HSR can due to the higher speed.

      • James

        I also developed and successfully tested maglev technology. I really did. In my lab using a 1/10th model of a train. But because it was so expensive to scale it up, I quit.

        Does it mean I achieved the same level of performance as Japanese technology. Obviously not. The Germans may have toyed around the idea but their technology is not comparable to Japanese maglev technology.

  • James

    USA sells its military hardware to Japan at full cost so why should Japan sell or license its technology below its original cost?

    • Kristof Anderson

      Because we guarantee their security under our Nuclear umbrella. Plus they are surely getting something out of it.

      • James

        That’s the same false promise given to S. Vietnam. It’s nothing more than a rhetoric just to act as a deterrent. Have you forgotten how you were sent home packing despite the promises made to S. Vietnam when things became too hot to handle? Were China to unleash hostilities on Japan (and I pray this does not happen), do you really think the US will risk war with China by defending Japan. It may initially, but the moment the odds change to China’s favor, Japan will be left alone.