Policy / Systems / Technology

July 8, 2003


Ministry Promotes Transportation "Modal Shift"

Keywords: Climate Change Government Manufacturing industry Non-manufacturing industry Policy / Systems Transportation / Mobility 

Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport put together an action plan for fiscal 2003 to enhance "modal shift" in transportation--a move away from less environmentally-sustainable modes of transportation, such as cars and trucks, toward more sustainable modes, such as railways and waterways. The action plan was announced on May 13, 2003.

Japan's official Outline for Promotion of Efforts to Prevent Global Warming, formulated to achieve the Kyoto Protocol's targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, sets a goal of reducing 4.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions through modal shifting. To achieve this goal, truck shipments of approximately 20 billion freight tonne-kilometers need to be switched to railways and coastal shipping. Unfortunately, the rail and vessel proportion of total shipments are in a state of continuing decline.

To address this situation, the ministry developed this action plan of measures to promote modal shift. Based on information collected from meetings with businesses and questionnaire responses from cargo shippers, the ministry studied existing barriers and potential solutions that could promote modal shift and came up with measures centered around three principles: enhancing the contribution of rail freight, enhancing the contribution of coastal shipping, and awareness-raising among cargo shippers and distribution businesses.

Specific measures to promote the use of rail cargo include increasing the number of freight cars that can be joined together to enable higher-volume transport and the introduction of "super rail cargo," or express freight container trains, to drastically reduce shipment times. To enhance the contribution of waterways, the ministry will look into policy restructuring to deregulate new business entry and consolidate the inter-linkages between domestic coastal and international shipping. As for awareness-raising, the ministry is considering various incentives targeted at cargo shippers and distribution businesses.

The ministry hopes to incorporate these measures into its budget and taxation requests for fiscal 2004 to move this initiative forward.

Posted: 2003/07/08 09:55:55 AM
Japanese version