The 1990s have arrived in Japan amidst a long period of economic expansion.
The decade leading up to the 1990s were a period of great economic and social
change for Japan.
There has been a rapid change in economical and social conditions during this period. The population has aged, the high value of the yen has been a impetus for structural change in the manufacturing sector, industry and population have been concentrated on Tokyo, and scientific technology has advanced further. On the other hand, Japanese people's quality of life and awareness has risen and diversified. Japan has broadly internationalized as the economy develops.
These conditions can be expected to continue into the 90s, and the rate of change can be expected to increase as Japan is faced with tighter environmental restrictions, including global environmental problems, a labor shortage and other problems.
(1) Revelation of Restrictions Affecting the Supply of Transport Services
As the Japanese economy grows, in recent years there have also been indications of a tendency for growth in domestic passenger and cargo volume. According to the estimate of demand for transport to the year 2000 made by the Council for Transport Policy, both domestic passenger and cargo volume are expected to continue to increase.
The increase in transport volume so far is accounted for mainly by an increase in the use of vehicles such as personal cars and trucks. In FY1990, the ratio rose so that personal cars and trucks accounted for 59.8% of passenger-kilometers of passenger travel (65.8% of passengers), and 50.2% of ton-kilometers of cargo transport (90.2% of tonnage). (Fig.1) On the other hand, restrictions appeared affecting the supply of transport services including environmental problems, traffic congestion and labor shortages. If matters are left to take their own course at this point, it can be expected that a smooth flow of transport will be very difficult to maintain.
(A) Increasing Global Environmental Problems Produce Restrictions
In recent years there has been a focus on global problems, starting with the problem of global warming due to the presence of carbon dioxide and other elements in the atmosphere.
These problems differ from the type of environmental problems experienced so far. They worsen little by little without affecting people's everyday lives. By the time the damage is done the situation is beyond repair.
Negotiations are now underway for the adoption of the "Framework Convention on Climate Change" (Provisional title) at the United Nations conference on Environmental and Development Council (Global Summit) in June 1992.
On the other hand, efforts are being made through the Japanese government's action plan to prevent global warming.
The plan includes goals to stabilize the carbon dioxide exhaust volume per head after the year 2000 at about 1990 levels, and to stabilize the total carbon dioxide exhaust volume after the year 2000 at about 1990 levels by pursue developments in new technology at a faster rate and on a larger scale than previously planned.
However, the transport sector accounts for some 20% of Japan's carbon dioxide output. To successfully reduce carbon dioxide output, it is necessary to pursue technological development, to reduce and limit output from simple substances, and to build a transport system that contributes less to carbon dioxide output. (Fig.2-1,Fig.2-2)
Domestically, as ever, problem areas remain - atmospheric pollution from nitrous oxide, and noise from traffic which are generally improving (Fig.3).
A tightening of existing traffic pollution policies is required to overcome these problems. Furthermore, in large metropolitan centers, environmental standards for nitrous oxides have not been reached in many official measurement bureaus. This indicates that the environment is not improving. In order to counteract this, it is necessary to tighten restrictions on the source of nitrous oxide pollution and to implement policies for increasing physical distribution efficiency.
(B) Changes in Energy Conditions
Worldwide consumption of energy will continue to increase, through maintaining expansion in developed economies and furthering industrialization in developing economies.
Destablization and a tightening in demand for oil can be expected due to the increased dependence on Middle East oil producing nations. In addition to this, new restrictions may develop due to global warming resulting from the use of fossil fuel energy sources.
On the other hand, the consumption of energy in the transport sector, which is a major consumer, will continue to expand at a high rate (Fig.4, Fig.5). In all transport sectors, policies need to be implemented for energy efficiency and alternatives to fossil fuels; it is necessary to restructure the transport system into an energy-efficient system.
(C) Advent of the Aged Society
The Japanese population will continue to rise until the year 2010 when it commence a gentle downturn. The number of people over the age of 65 will continue to increase until reaching a peak in the year 2020, when one in four people (25.2% of the population) are expected to be over the age of 65. (Fig.6)
It is necessary to establish transport systems and facilities for this period which are easy for aged people to use, to ensure that they are able to remain active in society and participate in leisure activities, in spite of their reduced physical capacities.
(D) Labor Shortage in the Transport Industry
The Japanese population of a productive age is forecast to peak in 1995 and then commence a downward turn; a weakening in growth in the size of the workforce is forecast in the medium to long-term.
The majority of sectors in the transport industry are characterized by irregular working hours and severe working conditions, making it hard to attract labor. (Fig.7) It is necessary to establish an efficient transport system in order to achieve stable transport capacity as the expansion rate of the workforce decreases.
(E) Space Restriction
Transport facilities require large amounts of space, and transport capacity is limited to the space available. Space is becoming more difficult to attain - the price of land in the center of large metropolitan centers has skyrocketed, raising procurement costs (Fig.8). As transport demand grows, the crowding of facilities further intensifies.
Demand for space is expected to increase further in all sectors as the scale of the economy grows in the future. An effective transport sector network needs to be established to counteract these spatial restrictions.
(2) Rise and Diversification in Awareness
Demand grows for a higher quality of life as income levels rise, leisure time increases, and people's awareness changes. (Fig.9) There are now demands for a total high speed, comfortable and convenient, transport service which offers a range of choices covering the full journey, from reservation onwards.
A high speed transport service is also increasingly desirable from an economic and social perspective - labor costs have risen in recent years as working hours have shortened leading to a rise in the time-cost ratio of business.
(3) Building a Transport System Which Utilizes the Large Volume Transport Sector, Such as Railways
In the future transport sector, consideration needs to be given to restrictions and changes in people's awareness. It is important to utilize the public transport sector to the maximum in order to provide a suitable transport service.
Japanese people have a particular inclination for high speed. Shinkansen transport is an answer to this need in the railway sector and it is necessary to establish Shinkansen lines, to speed up existing lines.
The air network is another area requiring construction and equipping, and in metropolitan areas a transport system which utilizes large volume transport sector, such as railways is required. Demand needs to be induced in these areas, and likewise in the cargo transport sector, where rail and domestic shipping should be used on principle distribution routes.
These large-volume transport sectors have the advantage of imposing a minimal environmental impact and in being efficient in terms of the use of energy, and space and labor. Potentially, they provide an effective response to constraints in the transport industry.
It is important, consequently, to promote further growth in public transport facilities including establishing a nationwide high speed rail network and raising the capacity of railways in metropolitan centers.
As already explained, policies are required which raise the level of comfort in individual transport sectors, and which raise the level of convenience through improvement in transfer facilities and providing information as is required to travelers.
(A) Establishment of Transport Facilities on Trunk Lines
A rapid increase in demand has occurred for trunk line transport services, as social and economic activity increases (Fig.10) shortfalls are already showing in the capacity of transport facilities. For example, there has been a worsening in congestion in the Tokaido Shinkansen and capacity has fallen below demand in both the Tokyo and Osaka international airports.
According to estimates of demand made by the Council for Transport Policy, by the fiscal year 2000 passenger rail transport demand is expected to be 1.2 to 1.3 times the FY1988 level (passenger-kilometer basis). Demand for air transport is expected to increase 1.9 - 2.1 times (passenger-kilometer basis).
It is possible that demand for rail transport may increase still further in the long term, as explained already, when the operating restrictions are considered. Thus, the quality of rail services should be raised in line with these expected increases, and improvements made in terms of speed and comfort.
Refer to the first section of the following chapter for details of transport facility construction to satisfy future needs.
(B) Development of Urban Railways
High quality metropolitan facilities and increasing population have concentrated in Tokyo in recent years. This has lead to a difficult state of affairs, which has been called the "Tokyo problem".
The Tokyo problem is characterized by difficulty in finding accommodations, and congestion in commuting to work and school, and road traffic congestion. (Fig.11) The same state of affairs also exists in other metropolitan centers, though to a lesser degree.
This is one area in which the quality of Japanese people's lives is not in fitting with Japan's economic strength.
Effort needs to be put into a decentralized approach to national development. However, as already explained, considering the present restrictions, a urban train service is still necessary in transport sector.
Refer to the first section of the following chapter for details on actual construction plans for urban railways.
(1) Stimulation of the International Flow of Travelers
Travel overseas included leisure by Japanese has increased beyond former levels, as Japanese people's incomes rise and their free time increases. This applies to all sectors of society from young people through to family groups. Increases in the number of women in their 20s traveling overseas, is particularly startling. The number of foreign visitors coming to Japan, also, particularly from Asia, is increasing steadily.
Travel for business purposes is increasing as economies internationalize. There has been a sudden rise in the number of Japanese businessmen between the ages of 30 and 50 traveling overseas (Fig.12-1,Fig.12-2), and in visits to Japan by their foreign counterparts. This sort of international flow is expected to increase in the future.
To accommodate the increases, an international air network needs to be established and touristic exchange needs to be strengthened and expanded.
An international transport service needs to be established in light of the increased demand (explained in the second section of the following chapter). The system needs to be familiar and comfortable to use, and should include improvement of international airports, a stronger international air network, and internationalized regional airports. Measure for the promotion of international touristic exchange fitting with the 21st century also needs to be promoted.
(2) Changes to the Structure of Imports and Exports and the Globalization of Corporate Activity
Worldwide changes are underway in the structure of trade as corporate activities globalize and changes are underway as a consequence. Horizontal trade between Japan and Asian NIEs is increasing as these countries industrialize; direct investment overseas is increasing as a result of the high value of the yen, and Japanese corporations are developing business activities worldwide.
Japan's exports are becoming increasingly value added, and include communications equipment and semiconductors (Fig.13). Imports of finished products such as televisions and telephones, and foodstuffs including meats, fish and shellfish, are increasing. (Fig.14) This has lead to a growth in international air cargo (Fig.15) and a sharp rise in the volume of international shipping container cargo.
However, international aircargo handling has been overly concentrated on the New Tokyo International Airport, capacity limitations have become a problem. Japanese ports cannot be considered to be effectively handling either the increases in the volume of container imports nor the increased sizes in container carriers.
As is explained in the second section of the following chapter, an effective import infrastructure needs to be established. International air cargo handling facilities need to be expanded and regional airports need to be utilized; port and harbor container berthes need to be enlarged and structured into comprehensive import terminals.