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The administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi froze proposed expressway growth at 9,342 km to halt unnecessary projects. But in a reversal of this policy, an advisory panel for the infrastructure and transport minister, which discusses national development and construction of main roads, has decided to build new expressway sections — the first such decision that has been made in 10 years.

The infrastructure and transport ministry views the government’s economic stimulus as an opportunity to break the freeze on new expressway construction. The fact that the advisory panel made the decision after just two hours of discussion suggests that the meeting was a mere formality. The decision reflects the Aso Cabinet’s desire to use expressway construction to buoy the economy and to attract voters in the next Lower House election.

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