The collapse a month ago of a freeway bridge over the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis offers an important lesson for Japan, where a large number of bridges are expected to reach the end of their useful life in the near future. The collapse points to the danger inherent in old infrastructure for which repair needs have been ignored. The central and local governments must get serious about systematically reinforcing or replacing old bridges.

The 580-meter-long Interstate 35W bridge was built in 1967. The ferro-concrete structure, spanning the 120-meter-wide river, has four lanes in each direction. About 50 vehicles fell into the water when it collapsed; so far, 13 deaths have been confirmed. The bridge was used by up to 200,000 commuters every day.

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