43 priority ports chosen for government investment
Wednesday, August 04, 2021 1:42 PM

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Aug. 4, 2010 (The Yomiuri Shimbun) -- The infrastructure ministry has chosen 43 ports to receive new infrastructure, including quay walls and breakwaters to be built under the direct control of the government from next fiscal year.

By narrowing down the number of major ports designated by the government as local hubs from 103 to 43, the ministry aims to change its previous policy that provided across-the-board allocations from the budget. However, as conditions in local municipalities were taken into consideration during the selection, criticism could surface that the number was not sufficiently reduced.

Until now, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has allocated funds for 23 specially designated major ports as international hubs and 103 major ports as major regional hubs. In the budget for fiscal 2010, the government decided to cut spending on port and harbor improvement projects by 25 percent from the previous year to about 165.5 billion yen.

In response to this, the ministry said it intended to select new priority ports, with minister Seiji Maehara saying, "A smaller number of projects will be selected to be concentrated on."

At a press conference after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Maehara said the 43 ports were selected based on past freight data, with the basic idea of having at least one hub port in each prefecture. Demand for freight and the average of 11 million tons of freight handled per year at major ports also factored into the decision. The 60 ports that were not selected will not receive government funds for new projects from fiscal 2011.

However, among the 43 selected, Nakagusuku Bay in Okinawa Prefecture handled only 3.85 million tons of freight in 2007, Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture 2.88 million tons and Hamada in Shimane Prefecture 910,000 tons, all far below the 11 million ton standard used in the selection process. Some prefectures, including Hokkaido, Aomori and Ibaraki, have more than one port designated.

Although the ministry explained that it examined facts such as the total volume of freight handled in a prefecture, the transparency of the selection process remains questionable.

Meanwhile, the ministry held a committee meeting Tuesday over the containerization of strategic ports. The committee agreed to make the final cut to two ports that will receive heavy investment for transformation into Asian hubs. Keihin port consisting of Tokyo, Kawasaki and Yokohama ports, and Hanshin port consisting of Osaka and Kobe ports are seen as likely choices.



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