Japan Ports Struggle to Attract Container Ships

Monday, October 01, 2007
Japan is taking steps to attract more container ships to its shores, driven by concerns that the waning fortune of its ports could hurt the country’s economy and industries, according to a Reuters report. Over the past decade, an increasing amount of goods from Japan have been sent to a neighboring Asian trans-shipment hub, such as the South Korean port of Pusan, instead of being shipped directly to their destination, adding to time and costs. Ken Abe, a deputy director at Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said given Japan’s expensive distribution costs, the move made sense if goods were being moved from areas on the coast facing South Korea. Trans-shipment of goods from Japan rose to 15.5 percent in 2003, up from 2.1 percent in 1993, official data showed. Alarmed by the situation, Japan in 2004 launched a long-term project to expand and improve port efficiency. Japan has about 60 container ports but the project, according to industry sources, calls for concentrating on three regional ports. These are Tokyo-Yokohama, Nagoya-Yokkaichi and Osaka-Kobe, with some $452.4m earmarked for the year ending March 31, 2008 alone for improvement measures, up 37.5 percent year-on-year. [Source: Reuters]
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