June 15, 2006

JAMA Publishes Pamphlet Calling for Debate on
Improving Japan’s Road Infrastructure

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JAMA; Fujio Cho, Chairman) announces the publication of Improving Japan’s Road Infrastructure, a pamphlet (available in Japanese only) examining the genuine necessity of road infrastructure improvements nationwide.

The pamphlet echoes the needs of vehicle users as expressed in their responses to a survey on “road improvements and automobile taxes” conducted by the Automobile Tax Reform Forum in April this year.  Thus, the principal issue is the need to focus road infrastructure expansion and upgrades on the twin goals of “reducing road accident occurrence and collateral damage” and “enhancing user convenience and reducing environmental impact through improved traffic flow”—objectives of which JAMA has been a strong and consistent advocate.

Over the years, JAMA has in fact addressed greater road safety and better automotive environmental performance (specifically, the reduction of CO2 and other vehicle exhaust emissions) as top-priority issues.  Towards those ends, JAMA member companies have continuously made strenuous efforts to improve vehicle safety and increase automotive fuel economy.

However, greater road safety and improved environmental performance cannot be achieved through vehicle-based measures alone.  Because both issues involve the three factors of vehicles, roads, and road users, JAMA believes that road infrastructure improvements must be undertaken in acknowledgment of the following two realities:

  1. To reduce road accident occurrence, road infrastructure must be upgraded.
    The Japanese government has officially announced its target of reducing the annual number of road fatalities to under 5,000 by 2012.  The key components needed to reach this goal include sidewalk construction and the upgrading of main arteries and by-pass routes (to stem the volume of traffic on local roads).

  2. To reduce tailpipe emissions, road congestion must be reduced.
     Smoother traffic flow must be promoted at key congestion points.  Measures should include the upgrading of routes that cross railroad tracks, the completion of three beltways for the Greater Tokyo region and the greater use of expressways in general, and should focus on those strategic points/areas that will yield optimal congestion-reducing results.

As per the “Basic Policy for Revisions in Road-Designated Revenue” compiled by the government and ruling coalition at the end of last year, discussions are currently being advanced on the concept of allocating revenue originally earmarked for the national road network to the general revenue pool.  However, JAMA’s basic position in this matter is that prior to any debate on the reallocation of road-designated revenue, there is a pressing need to examine, first and foremost, the nature and extent of road network improvements that are needed in Japan.  JAMA has high hopes that ongoing discussions will indeed deepen the debate on the genuine necessity of improving the nation’s road infrastructure.