Japan's Stimulus Package Lowers Highway Tolls To Stimulate Travel

Japan's four major highway operators will drastically lower their tolls, thanks to a generous government economic stimulus package aimed to encourage motoring during the major holidays. The operators are preparing for the enormous traffic jams.
May 5, 2009, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's economic stimulus measures are about to unleash the nation's worst highway traffic jams, toll operators and police say.

Aso's 5 trillion yen ($51 billion) spending program announced in October included discounted expressway charges on holidays.

As workers prepare for tomorrow's start of Golden Week, Japan's biggest spring break, police expect more than 70 million people to travel within the country, creating traffic jams of 60 kilometers (37 miles) or more."

"During the Golden Week holiday this year we are going to see an increase in the number of people traveling, thanks to discounts in tolls, declines in fuel surcharges and the stronger yen," said Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Daiichi Life Research Institute Inc. He estimates Golden Week travelers will boost consumer spending by 22.3 billion yen and have a knock-on effect of 42.7 billion yen on the economy.

The government plans to reimburse highway operators with about 500 billion yen of taxpayers' money.

Japan's four highway operators will take "considerable measures" to reduce congestion during Golden Week, including plans to set up 666 temporary toilets in congestion areas, triple the number a year ago.

West Nippon Expressway Co. will hand out disposable car toilets on May 2 at the three rest stations on Chugoku Expressway."

Thanks to Gladwyn d'Souza?

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Published on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 in Bloomberg.com
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