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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 20 - 26  > JCP in Diet demands cancellation of wasteful highway-bridge construction
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2008 February 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

JCP in Diet demands cancellation of wasteful highway-bridge construction

February 22, 2008
Japanese Communist Party representative Kasai Akira on February 21 used his questioning at the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting to demand that the government cancel the plan to construct wasteful highway-bridges at six locations throughout the country. He pointed out how irresponsible it is to construct these highway-bridges using gasoline tax revenue regardless of their profitability.

Citing an example of the Tokyo Bay Bridge “Aqua Line” constructed for 1.4 trillion yen, Kasai criticized the government for incurring the largest ever deficit in Japan’s road projects. The amount of traffic on this toll-bridge is no more than 40 percent of the initial estimate, and the debt repayment plan has had to be reviewed three times since the highway-bridge was opened in 1997.

Kasai asked how the government can ensure that the construction of another Tokyo Bay bridge can pay for itself.

Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Fuyushiba Tetsuzo could only answer, “I have no idea as to how much it will cost.”

Kasai criticized the ministry for failing to take into account the failure of the Tokyo Bay Bridge “Aqua Line” and to make public the construction cost estimate for the second bridge.

The JCP lawmaker requested the ministry to present its estimate of the cost for research for the construction of the new bridge and give the name of the contractor.

Deputy Minister Hirai Takuya answered that it will cost 7.7 billion yen but said it is difficult to give the specific names of contractors.

Criticizing the ministry’s refusal to disclose the names of the contractors, Kasai said he found out that the contractor is Japan Bridge Engineering Center, a foundation in which the board of directors consists of former ministry officials and representatives of major general contractor construction companies, including Taisei Corporation.

“Doesn’t this show that the contractor is conducting the preliminary surveys in order to increase profits for themselves in this project?” Kasai said.

The cabinet plans to approve a national land development project by March 31 that includes a major road construction plan such as the six major bridges at Ise Bay, two at Honshu-Shikoku, Shikoku-Kyushu, and at Shimabara in Nagasaki in addition to the second Tokyo Bay Bridge.

Kasai demanded that the wasteful construction plan be cancelled.

Fuyushiba promised to reconsider the plan.
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