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A Short History of Transport in Japan 

from Ancient Times to the Present 

John Andrew Black 


© 2022 John Andrew Black 

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Cover image: “Transformation—from Steam Engines to Super-Conducting Maglev 
Railway Technology”. The reproduction of this painting is allowed by permission from its 
owner, Yoshitsugu Hayashi, Senior Research Professor, Chibu University, Nagoya, Japan, 
and was photographed by Mr Kiyoaki Suzuki. The cover was designed by Anna Gatti. 

Table of Contents 




1. Introduction 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 
3. Ports and Shipping 

4. Canals, Rivers and Lakes 

5. Roads 

6. Railways 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 

8. Urban Planning Institutions and the Integration of Land Use and 




List of Figures 
List of Tables 

About the Cover 





Professor John A. Black (below I refer to him as John) and I first met 
in August 1986. I presented a city simulation model that was under 
development at the time at the session he chaired at a land-use and 
transportation symposium at Monash University, Melbourne. I knew 
his name from The Land-Use Transport System, co-authored with 
Professor Blunden, but I remember being quite surprised because I 
never thought he would be such a young Professor. On the way back 
from the symposium, I stopped by in Sydney and visited his UNSW’s 
laboratory. It has been 35 years since then, and our relationship between 
public and private has continued. In the meantime, I have taken care of 
him in Japan, but for most of the time he has continued to help me. 

John’s co-authorship of The Land-Use Transport System represented 
the first masterpiece on the interaction between transportation and land 
use and is the starting point for researchers in relevant fields. Since then, 
John has been active as an internationally prestigious researcher ina wide 
range of transportation-related fields, from transportation engineering 
to finance. One of these contributions was in the World Conference 
on Transport Research Society (WCTRS), at the 5th conference in 
Yokohama in 1989, when I was the secretary-general of the executive 
committee. At that time, he cooperated with the management organizers 
as a member of the thesis award selection committee. From then on, 
he actively participated in the management of the WCTRS academic 
society, and, in 1995, invited the 7th Congress to Sydney that became a 
great success with him as the Chair of the Organizing Committee. Since 
then, he has made a great contribution to the development of WCTRS 
as a member of the International Steering Committee. There are many 
other things to mention, such as him leading the launch of the timely 
Journal Transportation Research D: Transport and the Environment. 

Foreword ix 

In 1999, I was able to secure an invitation Professor position at Tohoku 
University, where I was a Professor at the time, so I recommended 
John as a candidate to the personnel committee without hesitation. In 
addition to international recognition, his ability to deliver academically 
and his engaging personality were the reasons for his recommendation. 
After coming to Sendai, I instructed doctoral students from Mexico, 
Thailand, and Japan who were enrolled in my laboratory. They received 
more enthusiastic guidance than I gave them, and were greatly inspired 
by a world-renowned professor, who deepened their research approach. 
They grew spiritually and are now active themselves as researchers of 
internauional standing. John has been conducting joint research with 
many Japanese researchers other than myself through encounters at 
international conferences, and so on, not only in Japan but around the 
world. He has co-authored dozens of papers with Japanese researchers. 
In addition, he has contributed widely to the provision of international 
information to Japanese researchers, including reviews of publications 
in English by Japanese people. 

In addition, when looking at things other than academic, John has a 
deep general knowledge of Japan. He studied under a famous Japanese 
painter, drew ink paintings, and wrote haiku with various friends. I am 
impressed by his continued interest in Japan. From time to time, is not 
uncommon for me to rush to find out the answer to questions in emails 
about Japanese matters. 

This book can be said to be the results of one of John’s insatiable 
inquisitive spirits from the transport academic field to the general liberal 
arts field. The publication of this book may be an end break for John, 
but I believe that it will be an opportunity for readers to deepen the 
connection with Japan, foster new encounters, and develop new themes. 

6 June 2021 

Kazuaki Miyamoto 

Professor Emeritus of Tohoku University 
Professor Emeritus of Tokyo City University 

Professor John A Black (LA FJohn “Midst TH5H5_) HlIEEOTH 
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on Transport Research Society) DAITSNSD CORMISMMRIT 
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AMZN DTE.EOEBHSteering Committee X/\—X LTWCTRSO 
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RACAS (Tohoku University) #SAGR 
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= ASA8A (Kazuaki Miyamoto) 


Nearly 50 years ago, my passion for Japan was fired when I stayed in a 
farmhouse near Oami (now Oamishirasato City) in Chiba Prefecture and 
jogged through sloping hills, and what were, in those days, majestic scenes 
of rice ripening in paddy fields. Over subsequent years, as the farmlands 
disappeared under Toky6’s urban sprawl, my research, teaching and 
consultancy took me frequently to Japan where I received appointments 
at three universities. In my spare time, I either travelled extensively across 
Japan (in addition to my research) or read books on Japanese history, 
literature and poetry, including visiting historical sites following in 
the footsteps of the famous haiku poet, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). To 
more fully understand these walking pilgrimages that Basho undertook 
I studied Tokugawa history and the main characters behind military, 
political and economic change during the Edo period (1603-1867). 

The genesis of the idea to convert this accumulated Japanese experience 
into a book on the history of transport and the changes to institutions 
and organisations was prompted when Emeritus Professor Malcolm Tull, 
Murdoch University, Australia, drew my attention to the theory of the 
new institutional economics (NIE) applied to port administration and 
governance. Malcolm organised an international conference on maritime 
history held in Perth, Australia, in 2016, sol applied concepts of institutions 
and organisations to trace the history of port development in the Osaka 
region from ancient times to the beginning of the Meiji restoration (Black 
and Lee, 2016), extending the narrative to the present (Black, 2021). Using 
a similar research methodology, chapters on other transport modes and 
integrated land-use and transport developments were added. 

In compiling this manuscript, no one source of funding has been 
received: instead, grants and support over the years have come from 
diverse sources. In terms of acknowledging these sources, that, in addition 
to the specifics of the research projects that I cite in this Preface, I thank 
the following: The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (two Long- 
term Fellowships); The Center for North East Asian Studies at Tohoku 

Preface xiii 

University, Sendai (two Visiting Professorships); The Graduate School of 
Environmental Studies, Nagoya University (Visiting Professor) ; Faculty of 
Engineering, Saitama University (Visiting Professor); the United Nations 
Development Program on Managing Rapidly Growing Asian Cities; the 
East Asia Society for Transportation Studies International Collaborative 
Activity (EASTS-ICA); the Economic Intelligence Unit of The Economist 
on an institutional analysis of public-private partnerships (PPP) and 
economic infrastructure in Japan; the UNSW Sydney special studies 
program for research into international airports and the environment; and 
Urban Research and Planning (URaP) International, North Strathfield, 
NSW, Australia, for funding research into: land-use developments at 
major railway stations in Japan; on tsunami evacuation modelling in 
Miyagi, Iwate and Kagawa Prefectures; and with social capital funding 
in Takamatsu, Shikoku. An appointment at Southern Cross University in 
2017-2018 as an Adjunct Professor to advise Professor Scott Smith, Dean 
of Engineering, Science and the Environment on academic links with 
Japan has given me support to complete aspects of my research through 
funding from the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan to mentor 
Australian engineering students in Japan. 

In addition, some of the research findings are the result of 
collaborative efforts with colleagues in Japan and elsewhere over many 
years. My Japanese friends have translated material from Japanese into 
English: Dr Masaki Arioka; Ms Michiko Arioka; Dr Ji Myong Lee; and 
Dr Kaori Shimasaki. Competitive funding (with Professor Danang 
Parakesit, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia) under the Australian- 
Indonesian Governance Reform Program (AIGRP), administered 
through the Crawford School at the Australian National University, 
allowed me to visit Tokyo and discuss financing for metro systems and 
transit-oriented developments. The Planning Research Centre at Sydney 
University (Professor Ed Blakely, Professor John Renne, Dr Santos Bista), 
in association with Jackson Teece Architects (Mr David Chesterman, 
Mr Carlos Frias and Ms Nadira Yapa), undertook a transport-oriented 
development study for the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority 
(now Transport for NSW), where, in Japan, the following people 
provided valuable information: Dr Masafumi Ota, Manager, Project 
Coordinating Secretariat, Planning and Administration Division, Railway 
Headquarters, Tokyai Corporation, Tokyo; Mr Dongkun Oh, Assistant 

xiv _A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Manager, Residential Realty Division, Residential (Development) 
Headquarters, Tokyu Corporation, Tokyo. 

The propositions of institutions and organisations as a conceptual 
framework for the history of transport in Japan were tested at the 
Oxford School of the Environment, Transport Studies Unit during a 
research seminar held in February 2017 (Black, 2017). I am indebted 
to Professor Tim Schwanen, Director, for hosting me in 2017, and also 
to his academic colleagues, Emeritus Professor David Banister and Dr 
Geoff Dudley, for providing advice on possible conceptual frameworks, 
and to Dr Heuishil Chang for her research into aspects of contemporary 
Japanese society. Reginald Fisk, former policy advisor to the NSW 
Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, has provided invaluable advice on 
the general workings of institutions—parliament, government and the 
bureaucracy. The research on canals was greatly assisted by Tsuyoshi 
Shimasaki (Minato Museum, Toyama). 

There are so many people to thank, but five Japanese research 
colleagues must be acknowledged at the outset. First, my oldest academic 
colleague is Emeritus Professor Kazuaki Miyamoto, now advising Pacific 
Consultants International, Tokyo, who kindly wrote the Preface to this 
book. Secondly, my oldest Japanese research collaborator is Dr Chiaki 
Kuranami, Padeco, Tokyo, a doctoral student of mine from the late 1970s, 
who invited me to stay in his parents’ farmhouse in Chiba Prefecture in 
1983. It was in that year when I first met Professor Hideo Nakamura 
(Toky6 University )—the leading transport academic at the time—with 
whom I shared an appointment on the World Conference on Transport 
Research Society International Steering Committee. Fourthly, Professor 
Yoshisugu Hayashi (formerly Nagoya University) and now a Senior 
Research Professor at Chiibu University, and his graduate students at 
Nagoya University, all have provided a source of intellectual stimulation 
on urban development and transport issues in Japan. Of more importance 
in the final checking of this manuscript is the gift that Professor Hayashi 
gave me: Japan—An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Kodansha, 1993). He said 
that I knew more about the history of Japan than he did and added 
that everything I needed to know was in that encyclopedia. His modest 
admission about the first point was incorrect, but he was certainly right 
about the latter statement. Fifthly, Dr Masaki Arioka, whom I met when 
he was the Kumagai Gumi Director of the Sydney Harbor Tunnel 

Preface xv 

construction project and I was undertaking an independent review 
of the tunnel traffic forecasts for the New South Wales Department 
of Planning and Environment. He is a founder member of the Tokyo- 
based NPO Strategic Lifecycle Infrastructure Management (SLIM)—an 
NPO that I joined to assist with the debris management study following 
the March 2011 Northeast Japan earthquake and tsunami. Many of Dr 
Arioka’s senior engineering colleagues, such as Emeritus Professor 
Katsuhiko Kuroda at Kobe University (on ports), have accompanied 
me on fieldtrips and given me insights into many of the construction 
projects on which they were involved. 

Finally, none of this research would have been possible without 
the continued support of my wife, Professor Deborah Black. She not 
only pursued a full-time career as a senior academic at UNSW Sydney, 
and then as Deputy Dean Student Life in the Medical Faculty at the 
University of Sydney, but she also brought up our children during the 
periods of my absence in Japan. 

On 31 December 2020, my mother, Betty Black, would have been 100 
years old, so, in her memory, I dedicate this book to her with affection. 
She greatly supported me, and encouraged my school and university 
education, all at the expense of her educational opportunity in the 
mid-1950s by declining an offer from her then employer to enroll in 
optometry at London University. When she worked as an executive 
assistant at Odhams Press, London, prior to the Second World War, she 
dealt with communications with Japanese publishers so it could be said 
there has been a family Japanese connection for over 80 years. 


Black, J. (2017) “Hakanai ({#L‘): The Transformation of Transport Organisations 
in Japan from Archaic Times—Searching for Conceptual Frameworks”, 
Seminar, Transport Studies Unit, Oxford School of the Environment, Oxford 
University, 14 February 2017, 

Black, J., and Jimyoung Lee (2016) “Osaka Ports from Ancient Times to the Meiji 
Restoration: Institutions and Organisations”, in Old Worlds, New Worlds? 
Emerging Themes in Maritime History, 7th IMEHA International Congress 27 
June to 1 July 2016. Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, 57. 

Black, J. A. (2021) “Ports and Intermodal Transport—Institutions and 
Organisations: The Seto Inland Sea, Japan, from Archaic Times to the 
Present”, World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, World Review of 
Intermodal Transportation Research, 10 (3), 269-303. 


Many people contributed to the production of this book. I thank Dr 
Alessandra Tosi, the Managing Director of Open Book Publishers, for 
her advice on the publication process. I also thank Lucy Barnes for the 
production of the book, Sam Noble for his careful editing, Luca Baffa 
and Melissa Purkiss for their advice on the illustrations, and Anna Gatti 
for designing the book cover. The book cover is courtesy of Professor 
Yoshitsugu Hayashi and his oil painting that was photographed by Mr 
Kiyoaki Suzuki, clerical staff at Chtibu University Japan. 

Professor Travis Waller, Head of the School of Civil and 
Environmental Engineering, UNSW Sydney, provided a generous 
grant that allowed this research to be completed for publication. 

On copyright matters, Kazuaki Miyamoto, Emeritus Professor of 
Tohoku University (who also provided Figure 8) helped in obtaining 
permission for material from Japanese government websites through his 
professional network: Mr. Ryohei Miura, Vice Mayor, The City of Toyama 
and seconded from the Ministry of Infrastructure, Land, Transport and 
Tourism; Mr. Koichi Nemoto, Geospatial Information Authority of 
Japan; Mr. Keiji Kozawa, Director, Haneda Airport Construction Office, 
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; Mr. Takao 
Ueki, Director, Nagasaki Airport Administrative Office, Ministry of 
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; Mr. Hajime Tanaka, Road 
Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. 

In addition, Mr. Takayuki Noami, Director of Renewal Project, 
Renewal and Construction Bureau, Metropolitan Expressway Company 
Limited organised Copyright © Shutoko Associate Company Limited 
all rights reserved for Figure 2. Mr Kensuke Tamura, General Manager, 
International Department, East Japan Railway Culture Foundation, 
Tokyo, provided the original for Figure 4. Ms Kate Kavanagh. Assistant 
Manager, Central Japan Railway Company, Sydney Office, organised 
permission to reproduce Figures 5 and 6. 

1. Introduction 

The cover to this book alludes to technological change in transport 
where a magnetic levitation rail car is seen projecting from the firebox 
of a mid-19th century British railway steam engine. The stories behind 
these inventions, and numerous others, that have progressed all forms 
of transport over land, sea and air, are the people in the institutions and 
organisations whose policies, rules and regulations have brought ideas 
to fruition. Here, ‘institution’ means the mechanisms of governance of 
a geographical territory. A distinguishing feature of a primitive society 
is “social organisation” (Nash, 1967: 5) but this evolves with different 
historical epochs each having distinctive and complex institutions. 

The term ‘institution’ for a nation extends from its constitution to other 
governing organisations that have a less secure constitutional basis, such 
as provincial and local government, the bureaucracy, political parties, 
trade unions and lobby groups. As Hague and Harrop remark “As we 
move away from the heartland of constitutionally mandated structures, 
the term ‘organisation’ tends to supplant the word ‘institution’” (2001: 

Throughout history, it is largely the power sanctioned by central 
governing institutions that progress personal mobility and the ability 
to move goods. This book is a short history embracing all modes of 
transport in Japan. The themes identify the governing authorities of 
institutions and describe what factors have influenced their major 
transformations over time, and demonstrate, at the same time, how 
transport has evolved. When interpreting the history of transport, 
one way to understand the distinction between the institutions and 

1 For an extensive exposition of these, sometimes subtle, distinctions, the reader is 
referred to Duina (2011), who provides a detailed introductory discussion of the 
characteristics of institutions and organisations, or to Alston (et al., 2018). 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 

2 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

organisations of the economy—trespectively, the public (government) 
and the private sectors, or the civic and civil sectors*—is to think of 
the political institutions of government extending back over time and 
to consider their long-term evolutions, in which are embedded much 
shorter-term changes in transport innovation and administration. 

In the descriptive narrative and interpretations of institutions and 
organisations covered in subsequent chapters, the following transport- 
related questions are posed. 

1. Throughout the history of transport innovations and 
policies that relate to the movement of people and 
freight—from archaic times to the present—both civic and 
civil society have been intimately entwined in one way or 
another to deliver progress, change and technological and 
managerial innovation. Who were the relevant institutions 
and organisations in society? What were their respective 
roles in relation to the movement of traffic on all transport 
modes, especially issues of authority and power relations? 

2. By placing people at the centre of this enquiry, an obvious 
parallel question would be: who were the key players 
behind the changes in these institutions and organisations 
and what tangible things did they achieve in the transport 

3. The transfer of knowledge and its adoption that, in turn, 
influences change is facilitated by the technology of 
transport and communications available at any point in 
history (Grayling, 2016), so to what extent is any country 
influenced by overseas ideas in the transformation of its 
institutions, organisations and transport? 

4. What might the future look like in terms of institutions, 

society and transport? 

Such questions are answered in this book with a case study of transport 
in Japan from archaic times to the present. This book represents a vastly 

2 For a more concrete, micro example of such interactions involving civic and civil 
society see a case study of urban transport policy in Sydney, Australia (Black et al., 

1. Introduction 3 

more ambitious extension of the author’s description of institutional 
changes and the changes in the provision of transport infrastructure 
services in Australia ‘bookended’ between the 1956 Melbourne Summer 
Olympic Games and the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic and Paralympic 
Games (Black, 1999). These questions can be addressed more readily 
in relation to contemporary societies where data are freely available. 
Every advanced economy, including that of Japan, would have detailed 
descriptions, accessible in the public domain, on its institutional and 
organisational arrangements for transport, including its regulatory 
framework: who plans, approves, funds and finances, builds and 
maintains transport infrastructure. However, to reveal the past entails 
interpreting material from a wide range of sources. 

To tease out the evolution of institutions, organisations and transport 
requires a broad search of historical accounts written both in English 
and in Japanese. Published in English, there is scholarship rich in 
details of ancient and modern aspects of Japan, its politics and economy. 
Computer search engines and the website Academia allow access 
to data bases that contain relevant articles. Extensive use of Google 
translator was made to convert text in kanji and katakana into English. 
As with some historical writings, there are variants in dates in the 
original source material, so I have resolved these differences by resort to 
Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Kodansha, 1993), written by leading 
Japanologists. Material extracted from published secondary sources has 
been carefully checked from this encyclopedia. 

The methodology on which the manuscript is based also includes: 
extensive site inspections of all form of transport infrastructure; visits 
to museums and art galleries—especially the woodblock prints of 
Hiroshige and Hokusai that depict famous scenes on medieval roads; 
publications and reports in English and in Japanese; reference to old 
maps and artworks; and historical novels, such as The Tale of the Heike* 
Interpretations of data collected have been aided by my numerous 
Japanese academic colleagues, and by the engineering members of the 
Not for Profit Organisation (NPO), Strategic Life-cycle Infrastructure 
Management (SLIM), Toky6, whose members arranged fieldwork 

3 Heike means the “House of Taira”’—where “Taira” was the original uji (or clan) 
name of the house. 

4 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

excursions for me to the many transport projects that they helped build, 
or they studied when they were students in the 1950s and 1960s. 

In surveying the contemporary transport scene, when attempting to 
answer some of the questions posed earlier, government officials and 
consultants have been interviewed. Today, in Japan, there are three tiers 
of government—national, prefectural (and city) and local. The civic 
sector comprises an elected Parliament, government bureaucracies of 
which the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is 
the most relevant to the transport sector. The sector is a mixed one, with 
government-owned ports, canals and airports, prefectural highway 
departments, private railway companies, public and private bus 
services, private-sector logistics companies, and, of course, a population 
wedded to personal mobility with motor cars and bicycles. Examples of 
such fieldwork and interviews by the author include published studies 
on railways and transit-oriented development (Black et al., 2016), Osaka 
seaports and canals (Black, 2021) and emissions from the Hanshin Ports 
(Styhre et al., 2017), and unpublished investigations into roads and 

Study Area and Time Periods 

For convenience of exposition, and for its historical association with 
the formation of the early Japanese state (Kawanabe et al., 2012), 
most of the selected case study area comprises of the Kanto region in 
central Honsht (containing the prefectures of Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, 
Kanagawa, Gumma, Ibaraki and Tochigi) and of the Kansai region (a 
historical and cultural term loosely applied to Osaka, Kydto and Kobe). 
Today, Kansai ( 
File:Kinki-en.png) and Kanto are distinct regions in the minds of 
Japanese people. Used in documents some time before the 10th century, 
Kansai (“west of the barrier”) is in contradistinction to Kanto (“east of 
the barrier”). Added to this study area is the Hokuriku region to the 
north of the Japanese Alps because of its historical trade links with the 
core study area between Osaka and Tokyo. The study area includes a 
well-defined geographical region on Honshi Island that the Japanese 
refer to as the Tokaidé Megaroporisu or the “Super Mega Region” (https:// /applications /transportation-mega- 

1. Introduction 5 

The Tokaido Megaroporisu is a general term for the approximately 500 
km stretch of land that accounts for only 17 per cent of the nation’s area 
along the Pacific coast of the island of Honshii extending westwards 
from Tokyé to Osaka and Kobe. This region is the political, cultural and 
economic heartland of Japan. As of January 2020, its population was 
66.48 million (just over half of the national population) and its annual 
GDP (in 2016) was 311 trillion yen—very similar to the GDP of the 
United Kingdom (Central Japan Railway Company, 2020: 22). 

Nevertheless, certain transport developments require discussion that 
extend beyond this land-based study area—air travel and ocean and 
coastal shipping being obvious cases in point. Historical sea routes of 
Japan connecting China, Korea and other Southeast Asian countries via 
the Seto Inland Sea are considered as an integral part of the core study 
area. Another example is the early fortified trading seaport of Dazaifu on 
the Sea of Japan (near present day Hakata). Similarly, when discussing 
developments in aviation in the first half of the 20th century, it should 
be noted that Japan had overseas territories in China, Taiwan and Korea. 

The time frame starts with the “dawn of civilisation” in Japan (Deal, 
2005: 12) and ends up today, with speculations on possible reforms 
to the Japanese transport sector in 2022 and beyond. A periodisation 
scheme is adopted that divides the continuous flow of social events 
and institutions into a number of discrete time periods. As such, any 
classification scheme is a historical concept devised by historians. An 
obvious starting point for a non-historian is to consult The Cambridge 
History of Japan (Hall et al., 1990, 1993, 1999) where the defined periods 
are labelled: ancient; Heian; early medieval; Edo; and modern, or to look 
at the chronology in Wikipedia (2021). 

However, I have preferred to use a classification from a Japanese 
scholar partly because his classification of time periods has been 
devised in the context of legal history whereby “ is that which 
regulates social activities and organizations...” (Ishii, 1980: ix). Table 
1 shows these convenient time periods used for later analysis of social 
institutions with the addition of an amended contemporary period to 
bring events up to date. Ishii’s detailed chronological table (Ishii, 1980: 
133-153), that ends in 1951, uses both the Western calendar year and 
the Japanese year based on the reign of each Emperor (from 562 A.D.) 
so these approximate dates have been added to Table 1 to make the 
classification easier for non-Japanese readers to understand. 

6 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Table 1. Time Periods—Analysis of Institutions and Organisations. 
Source: based on Ishii, 1980: viii. 

Time Period Western Calendar Description of Period 
Archaic 250 B.C.-603 A.D. Tribal (Religious) State 
Ancient 603-967 Ritsuryo State 
Medieval 967-1467 Early Feudal 
Early Modern 1467-1858 Centralised Feudal 
Modern 1858-1945 Modern Monarchy 
Contemporary 1945-2022 Modern Democratic 

A multi-disciplinary, social science perspective is taken with the book 
being of interest to a variety of disciplines. They include historians, 
geographers, political scientists, sociologists and any students in 
Japanese courses dealing with technology and society. In addition to 
transport researchers and students, the book may also be of interest to 
the general reader. For researchers of the new institutional economics 
(Williamson, 2000), the case study approach will be of interest because 
North (1991: 97) mentions institutions as “humanly devised” twice 
in the first five lines of his article. Furthermore, Japanese transport 
researchers, who are less familiar with this line of inquiry, can take 
inspiration from the approach in formulating their own area-based, 
research case studies with the benefit of being able to access primary 
data sources in their own language. 

This book aims to complement the understanding of institutional 
arrangements of the governance, planning and evaluation in the 
transport sector, and to the ways these activities interact to shape 
the spatial economy of any nation. An understanding of the political 
framework in any era is essential in understanding the context, how 
transport functioned at the time and the impacts transport had on society. 
Finer (1997: 1) notes that the history of polities involves understanding 
“the structures of government under which groups of men live, and its 
relationship towards them.” 

1. Introduction 7 

Apart from the socio-technical transition literature (Geels, 2012), little 
has been written about institutional and organisational transformations 
when applied to transport. No Western scholar has attempted to 
interpret the long-term development of the Japanese transport sector 
by paying attention to all modes of transport within the context of 
political economy. The closest studies of this kind are the book Rikisha 
to Rapid Transit: Urban Public Transport Systems and Policy in Southeast 
Asia (Rimmer, 1986) and books by Hauser (1974), who studied the 
Tokugawa era and economic institutional change in the cotton industry, 
by Vaporis (1994) on Tokugawa road administration and by Traganou 
(2004) on barriers to travel in the Tokugawa period. 

With a greater understanding of the historical factors underpinning 
the dynamics of (transport) institutional and organisational change 
in the past it is possible to look more critically at current institutional 
arrangements and to assess the reforms that might be needed such that 
transport services support society in a more economic, environmentally 
sustainable and equitable way. As noted by van Vliet (2002: 35), the 
widespread global application of newly emerging transport and 
communication technologies is reshaping the physical, economic fabric 
of cities: these require new institutional arrangements. 

Understanding of the role of modern governments is essential when 
considering the financial aspect of infrastructure development. Various 
projections of infrastructure requirements in urban and rural areas of 
Japan, and the capacity of governments to fund infrastructure from 
traditional sources of revenue, such as income tax, show a shortfall such 
that private-sector finance will be needed to plug the gap. This situation 
has led in the 1990s to private finance initiatives (PFI) in the UK and in 
Japan, and public-private partnerships (PPP) in Australia, and in other 
Asia-Pacific countries (Economic Intelligence Unit, 2012). 

Studying the contents of this book raises the contemporary 
question as to what is the appropriate role of governments in economic 
development policy? One view is that transport infrastructure and 
services are social overhead capital and therefore should be provided, 
and maintained, by the government as monopoly enterprises. Another 
view is that such markets should be contestable and that the role of 
government should be policy, regulation and strategic planning with 
outcomes being transport project development and the procurement 

8 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

of construction, operation and maintenance services based on which 
party can offer the highest value for money to society. How this plays 
out in Japan in the future will be shaped partially by past and present 
experiences by people, their political motivations and the policies they 

Organisation of the Chapters 

The next chapter elaborates on the concept of institutions and provides 
the political context for the case study material on all modes of transport 
in Japan by outlining the important institutions and other organisations 
and how they have evolved and changed from archaic times to the 
modern period. These include: the hunter-gather society of the Jomon, 
where there were clans but no institutions; the rise of clan chiefs 
and defined territories in the Yayoi period; the unification of parts of 
western Japan in the 2nd century and the institution of Emperor (Griffis, 
1915); the over-reaching control of the Emperor’s Court; the rise of the 
warlords and the imposition of three military governments until 1868; 
a rapid modernisation of the economy with the Meiji Restoration and 
westernised model of government in a monarchical democracy; and, 
finally, the current democratic form of government and its bureaucratic 
departments in Japan. 

Apart from the obvious importance of walking to any society, the most 
appropriate transport mode to start with is water because sea transport 
provided the means for the early inhabitants of Japan to communicate 
with nearby states, especially on mainland China and Korea. Therefore, 
Chapter 3 analyses the organisation of ports and domestic and coastal 
shipping. This includes the ancient and medieval ports at the Eastern 
end of the Seto Inland Sea, such as Naniwa, Sakai, Ishiyama Honganji, 
Watanabe and Hyogo. Coastal trade became an important feature of 
the Japanese economy from the early 17th century. As Western powers 
forced the opening of selected ports in the mid-19th century, and as the 
economy modernised in the 20th century, port improvements took place 
to accommodate international shipping. The post-Second World War 
economic boom of the 1960s onwards required further port expansion, 
and the introduction of container shipping in the late 1960s necessitated 
large facilities and extensive land reclamation. Increased global maritime 

1. Introduction 9 

competition has forced government intervention into the way Japanese 
ports are owned and financed of which the Hanshin port of Kobe and 
Osaka is a good example. 

Canal transport and lakes are forms of water transport (rivers have 
played a limited transport role in Japan because of the mountainous 
topography and fluvial infrastructure improvements have served to 
regulate surges in water flow and avoid excess flooding) that deserve 
a separate chapter (Chapter 4). The ancient period essentially set the 
pattern of canal and river management for millennia with landowners 
reliant on local knowledge for construction, operation and maintenance. 
In fact, the canals that were constructed in the commercial ports of Osaka 
and Edo from the 17th century were not financed by governments but 
were built entirely by the resources and capital of the merchant class. 
The ancient cultural and political locus of Japan was around Lake Biwa 
and Kyoto, so various ambitious plans were proposed by warlords 
that involved large-scale canals linking the Sea of Japan and the Pacific 
Ocean. All were aborted because of topography. It was not until the late 
19th century that a canal was constructed between Lake Biwa and Kyoto 
for the purposes of moving freight, providing irrigation and generating 

Ways of moving over the landscape on foot or by horse stretch back 
to when the Japanese archipelago was settled, but any sense of building 
and maintaining a network of roads dates from state formation in 6th 
century (Chapter 5). Later, in the medieval period, as the country 
descended into civil war, the daimyo (the great war lords owning large 
domains) used corvée labour for road building purposes. The third 
military government (Tokugawa) used roads and barriers* to maintain 
tight security and control over the country that followed the barrier 
policies and post stations introduced by the Taira edicts in the 7th 
century. During the early modernisation of Japan, there was little road 
investment because railways were a construction priority. Highway and 
expressway construction is predominantly a post-Second World War 
phenomenon that went hand in hand with the Japanese Government’s 

4 In Japan, these “barrier stations” were small fortified structures on main roads. 
Used in the Middle Ages, the British word “turnpike” was a spiked barrier across a 
road for defence, especially against horsemen (Jackman, 1916: 218-227). 

10 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

promotion of a domestic automobile industry and policies to raise the 
standard of living that included private car ownership. 

As the feudal past in Japan was swept aside (partly through external 
pressures), railways (Chapter 6) were constructed at the beginning of the 
Meiji Restoration under the influence of overseas money and expertise. 
Competition to expand the network ensued between the government 
and private sectors, until, as in many countries, the government 
nationalised the railways. Post-Second World War Japanese railways 
is a story of the financial difficulties of government railways and the 
establishment of regional business enterprises. In addition, Chapter 
6 is the story of the history of the successful bullet train (Shinkansen) 
that has captured international attention. The unique reasons behind 
its development and success are explored in this chapter, along with its 
technological advancement in the 500 km/hr maglev train that is under 
construction between Tokyo and Nagoya. 

Air passenger transport is an obvious competitor to high-speed 
rail in the long-distance passenger markets of Japan. Chapter 7 traces 
the history of Japanese aviation in the early part of the 20th century, 
initially limited to military aircraft, but soon expanding into domestic 
services. Both the national government and private enterprise were 
involved in offering air services until the government nationalised the 
airline companies. The main theme is the organisation of airports and 
civil aviation in the post-Second World War period, including the rise 
of domestic and international air carriers. From military aerodromes 
to the most modern of airports, such as Haneda and Narita in or near 
to Tokyo, and Kansai and Kobe serving the Osaka region, the national 
government has been the prime mover with policies, regulations and 
airport financing in the aviation sector. 

Anyone who reads scholarly articles about transport would have 
heard of the plea to “integrate land use and transport”. How the 
Japanese have tackled this feature of urban development is described 
in Chapter 8 with a case study of the Tokyo metropolis, where the land 
readjustment program, transit-oriented development and land-value 
capture feature prominently. Planning for integrated land-use and 

5 This has been a reoccurring transport conference theme worldwide since the 
concept of “integration” was introduced in a report for the Ministry of Transport, 
British Government, by Baroness Sharp (1970). 

1. Introduction 11 

transport in Tokyo regional new towns is also described. Examples of 
transit-oriented development are drawn from railway stations where the 
author and colleagues conducted field studies and interviews. Globally, 
there is an ongoing ‘smart city’ movement and examples from the study 
area are described. Looking to the future, the Japanese Government is 
promoting Society 5.0 and the vision and components are outlined in 
this chapter. Chapters 2-8 each contain their concluding sections and 
are supported by separate lists of references. 

In the Conclusions (Chapter 9) the early questions posed are 
re-packaged and answered when addressing transport institutions and 
organisations. What are the respective roles of civil and civic society 
in providing transport at specific points in history? What activities did 
they actually perform in their respective social institutions in delivering 
transport infrastructure and services? Who were the key players in these 
transport institutions and organisations and what tangible things did 
they achieve? Were the progression of evolutionary paths of institutions 
and organisations slow and conservative, or were the paths abruptly 
disrupted, and for what internal or external reasons? Who were the 
dominant players behind these changes? And the transfer of knowledge 
and its adoption in most societies influences transitions, so to what extent 
has Japan been dependent on overseas ideas in the transformation of 
its institutions and organisations? Finally, Chapter 9 also considers the 
future of key aspects of Japanese society and speculates on some of the 
institutional and organisational challenges that might be facing Japan 
into the middle of the 21st century. 


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and Organizational Analysis: Concepts and Applications. Cambridge University 
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Present”, World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, 10 (3), 269-303. 

12 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

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Transport Research Forum: Forum Papers, Volume 1, 92-118. 

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1. Introduction 13 

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2. Japanese Institutions and 

..institutionalization is an articulation or integration of the actions of a 
plurality of actors in a specific type of action in which the various actors 
accept jointly a set of harmonious rules regarding goals and procedures 
(Mayhew, 1983: 116-117). 


The aim of this chapter is to give an overview of the major developments 
in state formation, Japanese political institutions and commercial 
organisations in the archaic, ancient, medieval, early modern, modern 
and contemporary times. The lengthy conclusions to this chapter 
summarise the main points about institutional and organisational 
transitions or reforms. 

The archaic period saw the importation of Yayoi culture from China 
and Korea via Kyisht to co-exist with, and later supplant, the first 
wave of immigration from continental Asia—the Jomon hunter gathers. 
Families formed larger units of clans ruled by chiefs until consolidations 
of territories though kinship ties and territorial conquest eventually 
forged the Yamato State that covered much of western Japan. 

The ancient period saw the expansion of territory away from the 
Yamato heartland, primarily in the direction of the north-east of the 
island of Honshu. By the 7th century, codification of laws and the 
construction of large administrative capitals indicate the consolidation 
of a “state institution” with the Emperor at the pinnacle of power. But 
this early phenomenon of strong, politically active Emperors was short- 
lived: from the 9th through to the mid-19th centuries Emperors had 
little political influence. Other figures came to rule in the name of the 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // 

16 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Emperor: first, aristocratic families linked to the Imperial Court in Kyoto 
and, then, military families with diverse social and political bases. 

The medieval period in Japan was a feudal age that was not static 
but underwent successive dislocations of its institutions through civil 
warfare. As with the Marxian history (Jameson, 1974) that all hitherto 
existing societies are histories of class struggles (freeman and slave; 
patrician and plebian; lord and serf), feudal Japan can be summarily 
described as a long conflict involving the institution of Emperor and 
its nobles being usurped by warlords (daimyo) who gained territories 
through military conquest. Some warlords were politically and militarily 
adroit enough to establish two successive military governments 
(Kamakura and Muromachi). In a predominantly politically fragmented 
and decentralised country, where borders frequently shifted through 
civil wars, the daimyo were, in essence, the local government institutions 
of the day wielding power as landlords over their peasants in their 

Dislocations occurred because of the actions of individuals. In the 
early modern period, three warlords are associated with the unification 
of Japan in the late 16th century—Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi 
and Tokugawa Ieyasu (who created the third military government that 
lasted from 1603 until 1868). They also helped create a more prosperous 
economy by recognising monopoly organisations and delegating trade 
and transport to the merchant class that increasingly became more 
financially secure as time went by. 

After the restoration of the Emperor in 1868, the modern era is 
characterised by attempts to catch up with major Western powers by 
borrowing ideas on law, political institutions and technology. Social 
institutions that are more familiar to us today were formed: an elected 
parliament, national, prefectural and local governments (and _ their 
executive agencies) and organisations, such as powerful industry 
conglomerates and lobby groups. 

Another round of major reform followed in Japan with the occupation 
by the U.S.A. and its allies after the Pacific War. A new constitution was 
written by Americans based on the British model. By and large, in the 
contemporary period, the institutions and organisations established 
in the immediate post-war era continue to this day. The military and 
powerful pre-war industrial companies had been disbanded, allowing 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 17 

skilled personnel to be transferred into government and industry 
research. The post-war economy boomed to the extent that by the 1980s 
Japan was one of the three largest economies in the world. 

Archaic Tribal (Religious) State 

Migrations and the Earliest Inhabitants 

The societies that have evolved across the Japanese archipelago owe 
their origins entirely to external influences. Lineages of all humans can 
be traced to East Africa some 70 thousand years ago (Harari, 2011: 16, 
and Map 1, p. 16) before reaching East Asia (Harari, 2011: 23). During 
the last Ice Age, ending 15,000 years ago, Japan was connected to 
continental Asia through several land bridges. The relevant routes for 
the migration into Japan were as follows: the Ryikyd Islands to Taiwan 
and Kytisht; the link from Kyiishi to the Korean peninsula; and the 
connection of Hokkaido to Sakhalin and the Siberian mainland. (The 
Philippines and Indonesia were also connected to the Asian mainland.) 
These links allowed migrations from China and Austronesia towards 
Japan about 35 thousand years ago. The Ainu (or Emishi) came from 
Siberia and settled in Hokkaido and Honshi some 15,000 years ago, just 
before the water levels started rising again. 

Autosomal DNA analyses and population expansion models (Ding 
et al., 2011) indicate at least two waves of migration. The first wave— 
the Upper Paleolithic people of the Jomon hunter-gatherer culture, 
represented by the Minatogawa Man in Okinawa—began around 50,000 
B.C. and reached a peak at about 10,000 B.C. (Ding et al., 2011: 19; 
Moiseyev, 2009). This culture was distributed widely on the Japanese 
archipelago from the southernmost Okinawa to the northernmost 
Hokkaido (Hay, 2016). 

The second wave of migration travelled to the Japanese Archipelago 
around 2,300 years B.C. These Mongoloid populations, called the Yayoi, 
differed from the Jomon people in origin, and began to immigrate 
into Japan, specifically to Kyasha and also along the coastline of the 
Sea of Japan (Yanshina, 2019: 9). Hudson suggests (2006: 421) that 
the Yayoi period saw the largest relative influx of immigrants from the 

18 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Chinese mainland and the Korean peninsula that heralded in innovative 
agricultural practices. 

The first evidence of woven cloth in Japan is thought to have 
appeared in the early part of the Yayoi period (900 B.C.—A.D. 300) 
when spinning and weaving technologies were brought from Korea 
along with an agricultural package including the cultivation of rice and 
millet (Nelson et al., 2020: 11, and Fig.3, p. 13). Archeological sites in 
Japan reveal Yayoi-period spindle whorls were made from clay, stone, 
wood or bone and antler. 

Jomon and Yayoi Institutions 

The Jomon period (about 10,000-300 B.C.) is divided into stages (Initial, 
Early, Middle, Late and Final) based on archeological evidence as the 
technology of the culture, unsurprisingly, developed at different rates 
across the Japanese archipelago (Kodansha, 1993: 691-694). This hunter- 
gather culture began with the emergence of pottery and ended with the 
introduction of rice paddy agriculture and long-distance trade (Yoshida 
and Ertl, 2016). ’“Primitive tribes” cement their social order by believing 
in spirits’ (Harari, 2011: 31): “The tribe did not serve as a permanent 
political framework...there were no institutions.” (ibid.: 52). 

The Jomon lived in relatively small tribes, estimated about 24 
individuals per human settlement. Shamanistic practices, possibly 
influenced by Daoist practices from China, have been identified that 
suggest some hierarchical structuring of society. In the Middle and Late 
Jomon periods, archeological excavations point to fisherman inventing 
an array of tools and techniques for deep-sea fishing (Kodansha, 1993: 
693) that implied the construction of small boats and, by implication, 
some hierarchical control in the organisation of hunter-gather labour for 
lake, river, coastal and sea-faring fishing. 

The population sizes of each human settlement of the Yayoi 
communities were larger, at 57 individuals (Ding et al., 2011:20). 
Crawford (1992) suggests the transition from hunter-gathers to 
agriculture in Japan was not a singular process but that there were 
at least four distinctive transitions.' The political system and style 

1 The Jomon-Yayoi transition is the most important problem for the study of ethnicity 
in Japanese archaeology (Hudson, 2006: 418). 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 19 

of human settlements changed significantly. Community leaders 
increasingly associated the rice granary and control over storage to gain 
“centralized power” (Hosowa, 2014: 67). Yayoi communities, and their 
contemporaries on the Korean peninsula, were in constant contact. 

A system of social ranking of elite and commoners existed, but among 
the elite, a formal hierarchy did not emerge until the end of the Yayoi 
Period when some segments of lineages became very powerful and were 
linked in a network. (Pearson, 2016: 21). 

Based on cultural landscapes, fossil records and human remains 
(Uchiyama et al., 2014), the Yayoi soon dominated the Japanese 
archipelago and completed their expansion around 300 A.D. but never 
fully replaced the Ainu tribes to the northeast. 

Yayoi society was structured around agriculture with clan chiefs in 
command. The development of rice cultivation regions in Japan has 
been closely related to progress in the development of irrigation systems 
(Tabayashi, 1987). River irrigation systems for paddy fields extended 
across wide areas, especially in eastern Japan. The combination of 
these natural and man-made water courses formed the basis of rural 
infrastructure that also facilitated the movement of agricultural produce 
from the Yayoi period into the 20th century. The enduring feature of 
managing this Yayoi landscape was grass-roots organisations and 
cooperation and a decentralised administration. 

Yamatai and Yamato States 

From the Yayoi period (c. 300 B.C.) to the formation of Yamato State 
around 250 A.D., archaeological evidence suggests that the rise of 
social groupings, political control and small kingdoms were gradually 
incorporated into kingdom federations (Brown, 1993a: 4). The influx of 
Korean Bronze Age culture led to two distinctive religious and cultural 
spheres: one centred in northern Kytshu; the other around Lake Biwa 
in the Kinai Region—the five “home” provinces of Yamato, Yamashiro, 
Kawachi, Izumi and Settsu. According to a Chinese Han (202 B.C.-220 
A.D.) history, “Japan” (Wa) then had “over one hundred” separate 
countries (Ishii, 1980: 133). In the early days of state formation, “status 
and alliances were not based on place, for loyalties would shift with a 
family, not necessarily with territory” (Nelson, 2014: 89). 

20 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

During the later Kofun period (300-538 A.D.), Pearson (2016: 25), 
whilst acknowledging the debate around archaic political institutions, 
suggests that there was a complex political system in which social 
classes were controlled by elites who monopolised production and 
used military force to control or expand territory. Social prestige was 
derived from lineage, from tutelary deities and from ancestors linked 
to uji chiefs. Gradually, the clan of Yamato became paramount and 
interactions between far-flung tribes increased. Each uji earned extra 
prestige from the marriage of women in their clan with members of the 
Imperial uji (Culeddu, 2013: 62) underpinning the formation of Yamatai. 
(The confusion over the name of this embryonic country derives from 
different readings of ancient Chinese ideograms.) 

These rulers based their beliefs on mystical Shintoism: they justified 
that they were a divine race whose ancestors came from Heaven, whilst 
those subdued were born on earth and therefore “ordained to subjection” 
(Griffis, 1915: 26). The chief god of Shintdism is Amaterasu, the Sun 
God—the direct ancestor of later Japanese Emperors and Empresses.* 
Barnes (2014) suggests that the mystical beliefs were derived from 
Chinese Daoism and the myth of Xi Wang Mu (The Queen of the West). 

Towards the end of the 2nd century twenty-eight independent states 
pledged loyalty to Queen Himiko (c. 170-248) of the Yamatai state 
that was probably located in the Kinai Region—although that location 
is disputed by scholars (Harding, 2020: 10). Queen Himiko helped 
establish a single line of priestly and hereditary rulers in the Yamato 
region that gained control later over most of the Japanese islands, 
through inter-marriage and kinship ties (Barnes, 2014: 10), and parts 
of the Korean peninsula (Brown, 1993a: 1-2, 22). After becoming ruler 
of Wa, Queen Himiko confined herself to the inner recesses of the Court 
and the “mundane” affairs of state were left to others, possibly under the 
authority of her brother. The state was “tightly governed, and marked 
by a social hierarchy so vivid and entrenched...” (Harding, 2020: 17). 

This established the precedent that the Emperor of Japan—whose 
authority was based on divinely-informed rule—does not personally 
run the government (Ishii, 1980:7), and this continues as Imperial 

2 This belief is certainly a much later historical invention because Griffis (1915: 28) 
suggests Buddhist priests retrospectively invented many titles for the Yamato tribe, 
probably in the 6th century A.D. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 21 

policy. The state expanded through territorial conquest. King Yuryaku 
(reigned 418-479) sent a memorial to the Sung Court (420-479) that 
gave a brief description of how political unification was achieved in 
Japan after successive rulers had forcefully defeated other contenders 
for hegemony (Wang, 1994: 27). 

These territories of land under the direct rule of the King/Queen 
(Emperor) required administration and this gave rise to the Court- 
appointed governors (kuni no miyatsuko), who sometimes were the 
local chieftains. Provinces (kuni) and districts (agata) served as the local 
government arms of centralised control by the Court. This hierarchical 
control of land and sea resources by clans and tribes (institutions of 
governance) reinforced the centralisation of political power. During 
their rise to power the Yamato lineage established no permanent capital 
until 313 A.D. when Emperor Nintoku (uncertain dates for his reign 
are 313 to 399) built Takatsu no Miya at Naniwa, situated at the inner 
recesses of the large Osaka Bay on a marshy delta of major rivers that 
made it of strategic importance for seaborne and inland waterway traffic. 
The importance of ideas imported from continental Asia were facilitated 
by maritime transport. 

A “remarkable transformation” (Harding, 2020: 23) of the Yamato 
State, involving long and frequently bloody internal wars, took place 
in central Honshi in the 6th and 7th centuries that fashioned the 
archipelago’s first recognisable state (Toshiya, 1993). Mixing fact with 
fiction, the “Great Sovereigns” morphed into the “Heavenly Sovereigns” 
(or Emperors as rendered in English), as elaborated upon by Harding 
(2020: 24-28) with particular reference to the legendary Prince Shotoku 

The influence of continental Chinese culture grew including the 
codification of state law and the construction of large administrative 
capitals (Heijo-ky6 in 710; Heian-kyo in 794), with their substantial 
administrative components. The Yamato State issued eight official 
directives between 715 and 840 that encouraged the cultivation of crops 
other than rice (Hudson, 2019: Table 1, p. 32) to diversify the state 
revenue base. From the 890s onwards, the Chinese Zhenguan Zhengyao 
(The Essentials of Government in the Zhenguan era) was known to 
have been circulating in Japan and was a source of reference for the 

22. A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Kamakura, Muromachi and Tokugawa military governments (Kornicki, 
2016: 169-171). 

The Institution of Emperor 

The most enduring institution is that of the Emperor of Japan and its 
earlier manifestations—some of which are surrounded in myth (Ishii, 
1980: 3; Kidder, 1993). Japan claims to have the world’s oldest unbroken 
line of rulers. Issued in 1889, the preamble to the constitution reads: 

Having by virtue of the glories of Our Ancestors ascended the Throne of 
a lineal succession unbroken for ages eternal...The rights of sovereignty 
of the State We have inherited from our Ancestors, and We shall bequeath 
them to Our descendants (Griffis, 1915: 22). 

In this preamble, there are seventeen articles that define the place of 
the Emperor as the “fountain of order, power and privilege”. In fact, as 
emphasised by Gordon (2003: 2-3), the early phenomenon of strong, 
politically active Emperors was short-lived: Emperors from the 9th 
through to the 19th centuries had little political influence and they 
predominantly played a ceremonial role as priests in the indigenous 
Shinto tradition. Other figures came to rule in the name of the Emperor: 
first aristocratic families linked to the Imperial Court and then military 
families with diverse social and political bases. 

Ancient Period, 603-967 

The ancient period was heralded in with a shift from court appointments 
based on hereditary titles (the kabane system) to one based on merit, 
despite the opposition of the uji chieftains. In 603, a new twelve-tier 
system of Court ranks was established with those ranks bestowed on 
recipients by the Emperor according to merit and ability. Reformers first 
moved to strengthen the government's control (Mitsusada, 1993: 194), 
then Nakatomi no Kamakari (Fujiwara no Kamatari) and Prince Naka 
no Oe (later Emperor Tenji) finally broke the power of the uji chieftains 
(Kodansha, 1993: 1496-1497). 

Emperor Kotoku (597-654) called a meeting in 645 of new ministers 
and made them swear an oath of allegiance affirming the principle that 
it was the Emperor—and not the chieftains—who should rule the state. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 23 

The Taika Reform edict was proclaimed on the first day of first month of 
646. It was a Four-Article Edict that abolished Imperial and local magnate 
service communities and lands (setting up a system of government 
stipends), set up a new Imperial Capital and established a system of 
local and village government (Kiley, 1999). This administration was 
directly concerned with managing the fundamental resource—land. 

The edict ordered the compilation of registers for population, 
taxation and the state allocation of land, and it substituted a product tax 
(levied on households and paddy land) for a labour tax (so, yo and ché). 
In 649, eight ministries were responsible for various areas of the new 
government and 100 official posts were decreed (Ishii, 1980: 20). Also, as 
suggested by Mitsusada (1993: 197-199), and of lasting relevance to the 
history of military institutions, was that the Taika Reforms established 
the “position of seii taishdgun (iERAKS)”, or “generalissimo who 
conquers the barbarians’—the supreme military chief. The mandate 
was to quell frontier rebellions within Japan, especially in the northeast 
of Honsht: where the indigenous tribes of the Emishi (Ainu) fought 
defiantly against intrusions into their traditional territories. 

Institutional reforms in the ancient period were substantially 
influenced by external factors to Japan—although they took about half 
acentury to resolve. First, in 663, a Chinese T’ang force defeated a naval 
expedition at the Battle of Hakusukinoe (off the southwest coast of the 
Korean peninsula): administrative reforms based on the Chinese model 
occurred. Secondly, the Sinophile Emperor Saga (786-842; reigned 809- 
823) strengthened the Japanese legal-bureaucratic state after the 810 
“Kusuko Incident” when the former Emperor Heizei, who abdicated, 
staged a coup d’état.° 

Thirdly, a social code of behaviour, with strong Confucian influences 
from China, became formalised. The Chinese-inspired ritsuryo codes 
were more than mere ideograms (words) on a page: they reflected a 
“legal cosmology” that rested on metaphysical assumptions about the 
nature of the universe and the place of people within it. The maintenance 
of social order was premised on vertical relations of hierarchy and 
subordination where every person had a specific role and specific duties 

3 The abdicated Emperor Heizei (774-824; reigned 806-809) attempted to come out 
of retirement by staging a coup d’état against Emperor Saga with the help of his 
chief consort Fujiwara no Kusu. 

24 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

(Celudda, 2010: 356): relations between ruler and subject; husband and 
wife; father and son; elder and young brother; and between friends. 

This strengthening of the central government led to an expansion of 
its territories on the island of Honshi. It took almost half a century for 
the enactment of Taih6 Code (702 A.D.) that was based on the adoption 
of the Chinese-style (T’ang Dynasty) law (Ishii, 1980: 30). A commission 
of aristocrats and Court officials, which included Prince Osakabe 
(died 705) and Fujiwara no Fuhito (659-720), compiled the code. It 
consisted of six volumes of penal law and 11 volumes of administrative 
law (revised in 718 as the Yororyd Code, as explained by Migliore and 
Manieri (2020)). 

The Code finally broke down the clan-title system by making 
appointments to secular and priestly functions. As the entire country 
(which now included the provinces of Mutsu and Dewa, but not the 
island of Hokkaid6) was now placed under the direct control of the 
Emperor’s government, a new system of land administration was 
introduced. The country was divided into three types of administrative 
units—kuni, kori and sato (fifty-household groups). 

There were three T’ang-style taxes sanctioned by the government 
(Ishii, 1980: 27-28). So was a 3 per cent tax on the rice harvest but 
most of the rice was transported within the kuni for local government 
expenses. Cid was a tax imposed on local products other than rice 
and this included the expense and physical effort (transaction costs) 
of delivering the payment to the central government. Yo was a tax on 
labour at 10 days per year but could be substituted in lieu with local 
products. The latter two taxes were the responsibility of each household 
who were also obliged to transport the products to the capital—whether 
by water or by land. 

The land law of 711 allowed aristocrats and local gentry to obtain 
permission from provincial governors to cultivate a piece of virgin land 
at their own expense—essentially, the formation of the manor system 
(shoen). Towards the close of the ancient period the reclamation of new 
lands through irrigation—largely by private individuals (influential 
families, temples and shrines)—was decreed to be private property, 
immune from confiscation by the state in perpetuity. This resulted 
in large-scale private agglomerations of land that were exempt from 
taxation and this had implications later with the rise of regional warlords. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 25 

Early Medieval Period, 967-1467 

The early part of this period in Japanese history is characterised by a 
Chief Imperial Advisor (kanpaku) who was selected to take control over 
the administrative apparatus of government. Appointees to the role of 
Chief Imperial Advisor controlled politics only until 1185 when their 
influence was superseded by the political primacy of retired Emperors 
(insei system): “personal or individual relationships proved the main 
determinants of civil affairs” (Ishii, 1980: 34). The insei system (with 
the retirement of Emperor Go-shirakawa) gave way to joint political 
hegemony by the Court nobility (kuge) and by the leaders of the warrior 
houses (buke). 

Kamakura Bakufu,* 1192-1333 

At the beginning of this era, the Heike family monopolised Court 
positions, and other posts, by virtue of their military power and 
financial wealth. When the warlord Minamoto no Yoritomo crushed the 
forces of the Heike the warrior families throughout the country pledged 
loyalty to him as their leader. After confiscating Heike estates in central 
and western Japan, he had the Imperial Court appoint stewards for the 
estates and constables for the provinces. The Imperial Court officially 
recognised Minamoto no Yoritomo’s position of the “chief of the warrior 
houses” (buke no toryo). This paved the way for the warrior class to 
dominate the country under the Kamakura bakufu system (1192-1333) 
that was based on kinship ties and property inheritance (Gouge, 2017). 

The leadership of the Kamakura government was drawn from 
descendants of former governors, holders of military commissions and 
managers of shden estates. Headed by the Shogun, and based in Kamakura, 
the new ‘central’ government was supported by the regional warlords 
(buke) and the bushi? who were appointed to administer policies in each 

4 Literally ‘tent government’. 

5 Bushi (military gentry) were the warrior elite that emerged in the provinces of pre- 
modern Japan from the early 10th century (Kodansha, 1993: 1306). By the late 12th 
century they became the ruling class of the country (until 1868) and were more 
widely known as samurai (“One who Serves”). 

26 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

provincial government institution (shugo) and in the shden estates where 
local warriors (jit6° or gesu) had seized administrative control. 

The structure of the central institutions of government were well 
defined under the supreme governing body, the Council of State 
(Kodansha, 1993: 724). At the head of this hierarchy was the Shagun, 
followed by the Shogunal Regent (shikken). The Council of State was 
made up of the heads of the Documents Office, or Administrative Board 
from 1191 (financial affairs), the Board of Inquiry (legal matters), the 
Board of Retainers (dealing with general affairs) and the High Court. 

The local institutions that were also represented on the Council 
of State were; the Kyoto Military Governor (Kydto shugo); the Kyasha 
Commissioner (chinzei bugyd); the General Commissioner of Oshu 
(Oshu sobugyo); the Military Governors (shugo); and the Land Stewards 
(jitd). Bugyo is a term from the Heian period (794-1185) meaning to 
carry out orders received from a superior. This reflected the hierarchical 
nature of Confucianism. 

Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism (introduced to Japan in the 
12th century) helped to legitimise the bushi’s authority and superiority 
over the other social classes. The warrior society was strictly ranked into 
three classes. At the top, with comparatively small numbers, were the 
Shogun’s vassals on whom were bestowed letters of confirmation that 
recognised their proprietorship of land and the right to govern in that 
domain. The second tier in the hierarchy was composed of samurai. The 
third tier was made up of lightly armed foot soldiers. 

Go seibai shiki mo ku (the Formulatory of Adjudications) is the law code 
established by the Kamakura Shégunate (1192-1333) to codify warrior 
house law. This specifies both the relationship of vassal to Shogun and 
the administration of warrior domains that remained in place (together 
with the periodic promulgation of supplementary articles, suika) until 
the mid-19th century—all predicated on the Confucian ideology of 

Shugo were local officials appointed to each province as part of 
national public administration. From the 1190s the bakufu assigned shugo 
to identify, and to register, suitable warriors who deserved recognition 
as go kenin. Their formal duties were initially to organise palace guard 

6  Jito—Their historical importance is their role in the warrior class’s struggle against 
absentee shden proprietors (Kodansha, 1993: 687). 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 27 

duties, but they soon expanded to having the jurisdiction to punish 
rebellions (formalised in 1232 under the “Three Regulations for Great 
Crimes” legislation). 

The demise of the Kamakura bakufu was caused by anumber of factors. 
Theattempted Mongol invasion of Japan had beena drainon the economy, 
and new taxes had to be levied to maintain defensive preparations for 
the future. There was disaffection among those warriors who expected 
rewards for their participation in the conflicts. Additionally, inheritances 
had divided family properties, and landowners increasingly had to turn 
to moneylenders for support. Roving bands of ronin (samurai without a 
lord or master) further threatened the stability of the bakufu. 

To further weaken the Imperial Court, the bakufu decided to allow 
two contending Imperial lines (the Southern Court and the Northern 
Court) to alternate on the throne. In 1331, the bakufu attempted to exile 
Emperor Go-Daigo, but loyalist forces reacted, aided by Ashikaga 
Takauji (1305-1358), a constable who turned against Kamakura when 
dispatched to put down Go-Daigo’s rebellion. This period of reform, 
known as the Kemmu Restoration (1333-1336), aimed, unsuccessfully, 
at strengthening the position of the Emperor and reasserting the 
primacy of the Court nobles over the bushi. The long war between the 
Courts lasted from 1336 to 1392. Early in the conflict, the Northern 
Court contender was installed by Ashikaga Takuji, who became the new 
Shogun in 1338. 

Muromachi Shogunate, 1338-1573 

Japan’s second military regime was characterised by expanded authority 
over all military and political affairs that included responsibility for 
foreign diplomacy and trade. Two men are credited with giving shape 
to the machinery of government (Kodansha, 1993: 1020). The Shdgun’s 
younger brother, Ashikaga Tadayoshi, established the administrative 
organs of government by following the Kamakura model. The Shogun 
was directly responsible for local administration. Through the Shogun’s 
deputies in the Kanto region were the institutions of the Muromachi 
Shogunate. In addition, reporting to the Shogun were the deputies from 
Kyasha, Oshii (the ancient provinces of northeast Honshii) and Ushi 
(today, the prefectures of Akita and Yamagata). The remaining part of 

28 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

local administration comprised of the military governers (shugo) and 
the military land stewards (jit0). 

Miyagawa with Kiley (1990) explain the rise of the institution of shugo 
as “military governors” of provinces during the Muromachi period: 

It is essential to bear in mind the importance of the institution of kokujin 
[provincial men] lordship within the total political system of the 
Muromachi period [...] kokujin lordship was the fundamental institution 
upon which that order rested. (Miyakawa with Kiley, 1990: 99). 

Gradually, the shugo were given more extensive powers by the bakufu, 
including: the power to execute judgment in cases regarding land; 
to arrest and punish those accused of unlawful harvesting; and to 
administer hanzei—a system whereby half of the income from certain 
estates was expropriated for military purposes. Another power was the 
authority to collect tansen, which originally was an extraordinary levy 
measured in cash and imposed uniformly throughout each province on 
each tan (about one-third of an acre) of “public land”. 

By the middle of the 15th century, in compensation for the burden of 
collecting these taxes, the shugo had asserted the right to levy shugo tansen 
and shugo corvée. This bakufu-shugo institutional arrangement structure 
was “the guarantor of kokujin lordship at the local level” (Miyagawa 
with Kiley, 1990) but the system of independent kokujin lordships on 
shoen estates began to decline in the latter half of the 15th century. 

During the two and one-half centuries, stretching from the wars 
between the Northern and Southern Courts to the Sengoku period, the 
institutional arrangements shifted substantially. The shden system of the 
“Imperial state” structure and its proprietors—court nobles and temples 
as proprietors—finally collapsed, and actual power in the provinces was 
exercised first by the kokujin and then by a new class of warrior lords, 
the sengoku-daimyo. For example, the Hosokawa family’—a branch of the 
Ashikaga family originally from Hosokawa village in Mikawa Province 
(now Aichi Prefecture)—illustrates this shift of power towards the 
warrior houses and its enduring nature over the following centuries. 

7 The Hosokawa clan supported Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 
and were rewarded with the position of tozama daimyo (literally “outside vassals”) 
in the Tokugawa bakufu throughout the Edo period up to the Meiji Restoration of 
1868 (Kodansha, 1993: 1618). 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 29 

The head of the clan, Hosokawa Akiuji (d. 1352), assisted Ashikaga 
Takauji in his rise to form a government. In return, the family was made 
military governor (shugo) of seven provinces in central Honshi and 
Shikoku, and traditionally held the post of Shogunal deputy (Kodansha, 
1993: 567). For example, Hosokawa Katsumoto (1430-1473) succeeded 
his father as shugo of Settsu that included the administration of the 
important port of Sakai with its trade links with China. 

In the Muromachi era, the sengoku-daimyo had to deal with villagers 
(Nagahara with Yamamura, 1990: 108) and the status of merchants 
and tradesmen. These relationships led to an explosion of land and 
sea transport networks (Yamamura, 1993: 381-383) and the rise of 
“transport and trade” organisations. In particular, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu 
(1358-1408), the highest-ranking member of the Imperial Court, forged 
(after he had retired from public office) a tributary trade relationship 
with Ming China that lasted for about a century. This heralded both 
the assertion of a positive foreign policy on the part of the bakufu and 
the bakufu’s usurpation from the Imperial Court of the right to deal 
with foreign heads of state. By this act, the Muromachi bakufu set the 
precedent for the particular balance of authority between Emperor and 
Shogun for the next four hundred and fifty years. 

Early Modern Period, 1467-1858 

By the 16th century the provinces were firmly in the hands of the 
sengoku-daimyo. This undermined the power of the Muromachi 
Shogunate. The military and political changes, and the development of 
warfare in sengoku Japan, were driven by deep structural changes in 
rulership, administration, social structures and conflicts (Morillo, 1995: 
100). The collapse of national political systems of legitimacy unleashed 
competition at a lower level amongst the daimyo. The daimyo discovered 
that such competition was most effectively carried out through the 
conquest and effective governance of compact territorial bases. 

They developed administrative, financial and human resources, 
and built more effective local states. One example was the powerful 
warlord, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), who ousted Ashikaga Yoshiaki 
(resigned as Shogun in 1588) from Kyoto in 1573. Oda Nobunaga’s 
way of consolidating territories included a war against the Pure Land 

30 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Buddhist sectarians based in Honganji (Osaka) who had land and 
lucrative trading networks. 

The Rise of Guild Organisations and Trade in the Muromachi Era 

Under the shoen system of self-sufficiency all non-agricultural activities— 
the manufacture of luxury and special products, the construction 
and service trades, the exchange of goods—were controlled by the 
shoen proprietor. Village blacksmiths, roof thatchers and carpenters 
met the needs of the farming community, and artisans produced the 
luxury goods necessary for the aristocratic class. Such goods were not 
freely produced for a general market, nor were they freely traded for 
commercial profit. A dual peasant system emerged where the small, 
weak peasants subordinated themselves to more powerful peasants 
(mydshu class®). 

It became common in villages to manufacture products, such as 
noodles, rice vinegar, lamp oil and blinds crafted from bamboo, for sale 
in the towns that were beginning to emerge around castles. The peasants 
who made such products formed themselves under the protection of 
a powerful noble family, a warlord or a religious patron into za—the 
counterpart to the European medieval guild—that emerged in the late 
11th century, and flourished especially in Kyoto from the Muromachi 
period onwards (Nagahara, 1990: 330-331). Only in the Muromachi 
period did the za monopolise the production, transport and sale of 
commodities—an embyonic organisation in Japan’s history. 

The almost ceaseless civil warfare during the Onin no Ran (1467- 
1477) might give the impression of a dark picture of destruction across 
the region around Kyoto, but those warlords holding land increased 
yields and, in fact, promoted industry through the za system. Their 
merchandise (especially salt, sake, malt, vegetable oils and paper) was 
exempt from tolls, from duties imposed in transit and from market taxes. 
Recognition of these privileges took the form of paying ‘fees’ to their 

8 Myoshu were commoners given privileges by shden owners as local landholders from 
the 10th—16th centuries (Kodansha, 1993: 1026-1027). They were responsible for 
collecting taxes and labour services from their families and sub-ordinate families. 
As the shden system declined some were given samurai equivalent status and 
became armed vassals of provincial barons (kokujin) who, in turn, had allegiances 
to the military governor (shugo). 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 31 

patrons, who were predominantly the noble families, the local warlords, 
Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. 

Guilds were officially abolished nationally around 1590 by the actions 
of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Old feudal barriers were 
broken down by Oda Nobunaga, whose policy of the incorporation 
of large conquered territories eliminated many barriers to trade. Oda 
Nobunaga fashioned political institutions that his successors used. to 
good effect in establishing and sustaining the Tokugawa peace from 1603 
to 1868 (Gordon, 2003: 10). Merchants rose in importance to facilitate 
the extensive trade networks of the religious and secular organisations. 

Oda Nobunaga allowed relatively autonomous village organisations 
to thrive as long as they paid him taxes. He developed a bureaucratic 
program of tax collection, where specialised tax collectors dealt directly 
with villages and returned the revenue to Oda Nobunaga and his 
vassals. In this, Oda Nobunaga took ‘proprietorship’ from these petty 
landowners, and, in exchange, he guaranteed them an income reflecting 
the size and output of their land. He also established the right to reassign 
a subordinate lord to another domain. 

Oda Nobunaga, and, later, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, eliminated the za 
with their policy of free markets and guilds (rakuichi-rakuza) but in 
doing so created new guilds under their protection. Merchants opposed 
guilds as being monopolistic and restrictive of trade and found ways to 
circumvent policies: some merchants located in small seaports dealt with 
the administrators of the buke estates and arranged for the movement of 
their agricultural surpluses by sea. 

Pirdcy as an Organisation 

‘Piracy’ represents a good example of the blurring between institutions 
and organisations. Piracy in medieval Japan might be best thought of as 
an economic partnership between de facto local government (warlords) 
and private enterprise. Japan’s land-based warlords accepted the 
autonomy of “pirates” and, in fact, competed to sponsor these multi- 
functional “sea-lord brigands” who could administer coastal estates, 
fight sea battles, protect shipping and carry out trade as well as seizing 
cargoes from foreign ships (Petrucci, 2010). 

According to Shapinsky (2010, 2014), the “pirates” thought of 
themselves as sea lords. Over the course of time, “pirates” became 

32. A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

maritime magnates who wielded increasing amounts of political and 
economic power by developing autonomous maritime domains that 
operated outside the auspices of state authority. With opportunities to 
make great profits it was natural that unlicensed trade grew in volume, 
especially through the hands of an organisation of “pirates” (Sanson, 
1961: 265-270). 

The chaotic world of sengoku Japan has been characterised by 
Clulow (2009: 25) as a “failed state” with endemic conflict fuelled by 
a proliferation of weapons and competing warrior groups. Since the 
collapse of the Ashikaga shogunate in 1467 and the onset of Japan’s 
warring states (sengoku) period (1467-1568), no central authority had 
been able to exert real power over the archipelago’s maritime fringes. 
Piracy underpinned these local coastal economies of Japan (Tamaki, 
2014: 257), providing a reliable source of income to local warlords and 
creating employment for coastal communities. 

In addition, during the 16th century, daimyo on the outlying western 
islands began to appropriate the title of nihonkokuo shi (Japan’s official 
overseas diplomatic emissaries). Lacking the military power to prevent 
fraudulent use of that title, the Muromachi bakufu was helpless to prevent 
regional rulers from pursuing foreign trade and diplomatic relations 
(Murdoch with Yamagata, 1903). Far from taking steps to prevent their 
domains from becoming bases for illegal trade or piracy, the lords of 
Japan’s westernmost provinces (including the S6 of Tsushima, the Ouchi 
near the western tip Honsht, and the Otomo, Matsuura, and Shimazu 
of Kyisht) were eager to pocket a share of the profits from such trade 
(Murai, n.d.). 

The Eradication of Piracy and State Incorporation 

Following in the path of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi built up 
powerful coalition of domains with an objective of unifying all Japanese 
provinces. Under the tutelage of Oda Nobunaga his wealth expanded 
rapidly in an environment of rampant extra-legal, extra-national 
economic activity of maritime smuggling. He began to trade by way 
of shuin sen (ships used for foreign trade) with the formal permission 
of the Muromachi bakufu (Tamaki, 2014: 259). As his military power 
expanded, Toyotomi Hideyoshi incorporated some of the pirate clans 
into his war machine to gain more territory. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 33 

As for those remaining pirates, Toyotomi Hideyoshi initiated a 
campaign consisting of three steps: identification; disarmament; and 
enforcement. The key moment was on 29 August 1588, when he issued 
two decrees that, combined, aimed to eradicate pirate organisations: 
the “sword-hunt” edict; and an anti-piracy regulation. The anti-piracy 
edict specifically targeted coastal communities by ordering that “the 
sea captains and the fishermen of the provinces and the seashores, all 
those who go in ships to the sea, shall immediately be investigated” (de 
Bray et al., 2002: 459). Once they were identified, these sea peoples were 
compelled to sign oaths declaring that they would no longer engage in 

The edict extended central government control over the maritime 
fringes of the Japanese archipelago for the first time, effectively moving 
the “marginal men”, who were so central to piracy, out of the margins 
and into the legal structures (Clulow, 2009) of institutions. Japanese sea 
power became a centralising political force during the late 16th century, 
as demonstrated by the two maritime invasions of the Korean peninsula 
during the Imjin Wars of 1592-1598 (Hawley, 2005; Turnbull, 2002). 

Isolated pirate attacks continued to be recorded well into the 17th 
century, but Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s efforts transformed piracy from an 
organisation that could be conducted with virtual impunity into a far 
more sporadic and marginal business that entailed great risks where 
smaller pirate organisations remained outside the pale of a centralised 
government. Details on how the smuggling of valuable goods from 
overseas countries into Japan continued during the later Edo period by 
organised networks is described by Knoest (2016). 

Edo Period—Bakuhan System of Government 

The Edo period (Deal, 2005: 12) heralded the unification of the country 
under the Tokugawa military government. The Battle of Sekigahara 
(1600) confirmed the hegemony of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was 
appointed by the Emperor as Shogun in 1603. He set about building 
a castle and reconstructing the city that became Ed6 (Naito, 2003; 
Kodansha, 1993: 314). The Ed6 period saw the immediate transfer of 
political and economic power away from the Kansai region to the Kanto 

34 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Roughly three-quarters of Japan was governed by daimyo (han 
provincial government), about 15 per cent by the Tokugawa bakufu, 
and an additional 10 per cent by vassals loyal to the Tokugawa. 
Approximately 2 per cent of the land was in the hands of the Imperial 
Family, temples and shrines. The Tokugawa Shogunate is best described 
as a fiscal-military state (Tamaki, 2011) where the overriding policy was 
to ensure the successful succession of the House of Tokugawa.’ 

The bakufu had absolute central political power over the fate of the 
daimyo and could even remove them from a domain. The iron fist of a 
national government reached its zenith once the country of powerful 
independent fiefdoms of some 250 domains had been finally unified in 
the very early 17th century. Han allocation reached its maturity under 
the third Tokugawa Shogun. Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651), established 
the right to confiscate daimyo lands and give them to other daimyo he 
considered more reliable to ensure the hegemony of the Tokugawa clan 
and its allies in other domains." He also exercised power by ordering 
some daimyo to trade domains, which weakened them considerably. He 
confiscated portions of many domains and gave them to lieutenants 
under his direct command. 

Tokugawa Iemitsu effectively controlled over about five million koku, 
or about one-fifth of Japan’s cultivated land (Gordon, 2003: 13). He was 
especially tough on the daimyo who had opposed his grandfather in the 
Battle of Sekigahara. He took the land of former opponents of the regime 
and granted them to his most loyal daimyo allies—the fudai daimyo. He 
protected his power base by building a concentric pattern of Tokugawa 

9 This is best illustrated by consulting the Tokugawa family genealogy (Kodansha, 
1993: 1577) with its fifteen Tokugawa Shoguns who were supported by the gosanke 
(Three Successor Houses)—daimyo families from the domains of Mito, Owari and 
Kii—who were expected to supply the Shogun with military forces against any 
daimyo challengers and to enable successors in the event a Shogun who died without 
a male issue. 

10 Tokugawa Shdgunate power in first fifty years was to control the provinces with 
the active allocation and withdrawal of domains. 172 new daimyods were created 
and 206 were given fief increases for notable service; there were 281 occasions that 
daimyds were transferred from one domain to another with the quality of the new 
fief in proportion to service rendered; and 213 dainzyos lost all or part of their estates 
in punishment (Kodansha, 1993: 1580). The principal officials of the Tokugawa 
Shogunate were held by the fudai (hereditary vassal) daimyos with other lesser offices 
held by the hatamoto and gokenin (liege vassals) such that governance was in the 
hands of the most powerful warlords. This bakuhan system of governance is the 
name given by modern Japanese scholars to the political structure established by 
the Tokugawa house in the early part of the 17th century. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 35 

house lands close to Ed6, surrounded by lands of allied fudai daimyo and 
Tokugawa relatives called shinpan. He placed the former opponents— 
the tozama daimyo—in lands at the farthest reaches of the three main 
islands of Honshi, Kyisha and Shikoka. 

Governance under the Tokugawa functioned in a complex way 
through a system of layered hierarchical spheres of authority, each of 
which retained autonomy. Each daimyo—the Shogunate’s direct vassal— 
ruled his own domain (han). Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and other 
organisations, such as merchant guilds and certain other associations, 
were similarly self-governing. All of these interlocking institutional and 
organisational spheres enjoyed a large degree of autonomy so long as they 
fulfilled their obligations to the relevant authorities directly above them 
in the hierarchy. 

The Office of Shogun nominally headed the bakufu and this office was 
invested in 15 successive heads of the Tokugawa family in an unbroken 
line that eventually came to an end in 1867 with the resignation of 
Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Directly supporting the Office of Shogun were 
the junior councillors: Chiefs of the Pages and Attendants; Inspectors; 
Captains of the Bodyguards and Inner Guards; and Magistrates, 
Accountants, Tax Collectors and Policemen (Kodansha, 1993: 1580). 
This structure would allow the House of Tokugawa to retain supreme 
power throughout the land, especially with police powers to spy on 
operations in the han domains. 

To reinforce absolute Shogun power were seven senior officials 
reporting directly to the Shogun. These positions were held by loyal, 
hereditary vassals (fudai): the Great Elder (tairo)—a position rarely 
occupied; Senior Councillors (roju); Master of Shdgunal Ceremonies 
(soshaban); Commissioner of Temples and Shrines (jisha bugyd); Kyoto 
Deputy (Kydto shoshidai); Keeper of Osaka Castle (Osaka jodai); and the 
Grand Chamberlain (sobayonin). Civil and judicial administration was 
rationalised during the Tokugawa Shogunate when the bugyos became 
of much lesser importance as administrators were confined to holding 
middle ranks with well-defined duties. 

Military and security governance were of paramount importance 
dealing with the Emperor’s Court in Kyoto and maintaining Tokugawa 
hegemony. Responsible to the Senior Councillors were 10 official 
positions: Edo City Commissioners; Commissioners of Finance (kanjo 
bugyo); Comptrollers (kanjo gimiyaku); Inspectors General (ometsuke); 
Commissioners of Distant Provinces (ongaku bugyd); Captains of the 

36 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Great Guard (obangashira); Keepers of Edo Castle (rusui); Envoys to the 
Court (kinrizuki); Masters of Court Ceremony (koke); and Chamberlains 

Finer (1997a: 15-16) has identified the link in all countries between 
the emergence of the civil bureaucracy and the raising and maintenance 
of military forces. He explains the structure of the Tokugawa bakufu in 
light of an organisation chart (Finer, 1997b: Figure 4.1.1, p. 1103). The 
pertinent thing he noted was Japan’s huge and intricate civil bureaucracy: 
it was a highly effective police state that was “despotic, harsh, unequal 
and bureaucratic” (Finer, 1997b: 1103). 

Provincial governments (han) wereresponsible fortheimplementation 
of national edicts. An important concept for instilling correct behaviour 
in provincial local officials was that of bokumin texts imported from 
China that influenced the administrative ethos and practice within the 
bakuhan system of government (Brown, 2009: 291-292). The Confucian 
scholar Yamaga Soko (1622-1685) revised the bokumin ideal to suit the 
ruling warrior class. Over time and combined with “Records of Wise 
Rulers” (meikunroku), a Confucian-style “people as the base” ideology 
was created, whereby local magistrates would function as “benevolent” 
officials looking out for the welfare of the people and promoting the 
stability of the bakufu and the han. 

The Tokugawa bakufu actively utilised foreign policy and trade as a 
means of consolidating its legitimacy in ruling Japan. Instead of dealing 
directly with foreign trade, the bakufu transferred the authority to conduct 
trade to the daimyo of Satsuma and Tsushima. Satsuma conducted trade 
with China via Ryikyd, and Tsushima traded with Korea. This avoided 
the sovereign-vassal relationship with China (Colaccino, 2014: 33). 
Instead of kowtowing to China as a vassal or tribute state, Tokugawa 
Ieyasu initiated his own vermillion seal (shuin, EN), thereby declaring 
Japan as a country independent of China. 

Paradoxically, this stance not only restricted, but greatly encouraged 
and enforced mutual exchange with China (Schottenhammer, 2008: 
333-334). For example, the 1631 Tokugawa regulations specified 
that trading activities with Chinese ships outside of Nagasaki were 
prohibited, that a non-negotiable price for silk imports was set, and that 
mobility of any Chinese living in Nagasaki became restricted. In 1688, 
the bakufu issued a regulation, drafted by Arai Hakuseki (1657-1725), 
restricting the annual number of ships being allowed to enter Nagasaki 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 37 

harbour (Schottenhammer, 2008: 337, footnote 37). Both sides (for a 
Chinese perspective see Schottenhammer, 2013) were dissatisfied with 
the regulations and so smuggling continued to be prevalent. 

As time went by, the successive Shdguns’ attempts to gain better 
control over foreign trade involved policy changes and the formation 
of a large administrative bureaucracy. For example, the Shogunate 
administrator (bugy0) of Kyisht in 1681 employed 1,041 officials—a 
figure that almost doubled by 1724 (Schottenhammer, 2008: 335). By 
adapting Western ideas (from the Dutch and Portuguese), especially 
in the maritime field, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his successors developed a 
sufficiently powerful modern naval fleet. By the 1630s, the bakufu could 
back-up the sakoku edicts (“seclusion”) with Japanese sea power that 
could control movements into and out of its coastal waters. 

However, maritime borders were not impregnable to the circulation 
of Chinese administrative and strategic military ideas: through news 
and reports delivered by ships, the bakufu kept abreast of overseas 
conflicts such as the transition from the Ming to the Qing dynasty 
(1618-1683) and the port concessions yielded by China from 1842 
to 1844 to the British, American and French Governments. China’s 
government and its administration was of general interest to the Japanese 
rulers (Schottenhammer, 2008: 355). For example, Shogun Tokugawa 
Yoshimune ordered Fukami Kudayt (a third-generation Japanese of 
Chinese origin) to translate into Japanese the Collected Statutes of the 
Great Qing Dynasty (Da Qing Huidian). 

Local Government by Merchants 

For over 250 years Itami was governed by the sengoku-daimyo, as was 
typical of most of Japan. The relevant governance of Japan in this era 
was provided by the local daimyo. After a series of unusual events in the 
late 17th century, the merchants of Itami County (about 16 km north- 
northwest of the present-day Osaka Railway Station) were assigned 
the task of local administration. The temporal dynamics of this unusual 
example of governamce by merchants are summarised in Table 2 that gives 
the timeline, the key events and the unusual sequence of institutional/ 
organisational structures governing Itami County in Settsu. 

The Itami clan constructed a castle in the early Muromachi period 
and its domain covered Itami County. During the Warring period in 

38 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

1574, forces of Oda Nobunaga captured the castle and his General in 
Settsu, Araki Murashige, was put in charge, and vastly expanded the 
castle. A few years later, Araki was accused of siding with enemies of 
Oda Nobunaga. Forces of Toyotomi Hideyoshi loyal to Oda Nobunaga 
captured the castle in 1579 and subsequently dismantled it. Following 
Oda Nobunaga's death in 1582, Itami was placed under the direct 
control of the Imperial Court and, in essence, became a de-militarised 

protectorate (Brecher, 2010: 22-25). 

Table 2. Institutional Shifts in the Administration of Itami, Settsu 
Province, from the Mid-14th century to the Mid-19th century. 

Source: Based on Kodansha, 1993, and Brecher, 2010. 

Time Period 

Major Event 

Dominant Institution 


Itami clan constructs a castle 



Itami castle attacked by forces of 
Oda Nobunaga then castle was 
substantially enlarged by Araki 
Murashige—a general in Settsu 
for Oda Nobunaga 



Successful siege and dismantling 
of castle by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 
following accusation that Araki 
conspired with the Mori Clan— 
enemies of Oda Nobunaga 



After Nobunaga’s death Itami 
placed under direct control of 
Imperial Court and declared 
musoku-cho (land outside warrior 

Imperial Court 

June 1615 

Re-appropriated by the 
Tokugawa bakufu during Ieyasu 
successful siege of Osaka Castle 
against Toyotomi Hideyoshi clan 

Tokugawa Bakufu 


Bakufu swap land at Uji (for 
the establishment of temple for 
Obaku sect of Zen Buddhism) 
owned by the Konoe clan for 
land in Itami County 

Konoe—Senior of Five 
Houses (Go-sekke) of 
Fujiwara Clan and high 
court officials eligible for 
post of Regent 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 39 

Time Period Major Event Dominant Institution 

1697 The Konoe clan formalised Merchant Council 
previous arrangements by of 24 Members from 
placing administrative and Sake Brewing Houses 

judicial affairs in the hands of an | (soshukuro) 
appointed merchant council 
1871 Konoe clan return land to Meiji | National and Prefectural 
government Government 

The Tokugawa bakufu regained control of Itami after Tokugawa 
Teyasu’s successful siege of Osaka Castle in 1615, when the Toyotomi 
clan was finally crushed. In 1661, the bakufu reassigned land in Itami 
County to the Konoe clan—one of the Five Great Houses from the 
Fujiwara Clan—who swapped their land holding at Gokanosho in Uji 
(southern outskirts of Kyoto) because the bakufu had been searching for 
a suitable site on which to construct Manpukuji—a head temple for the 
Obaku sect of Zen Buddhism that had recently arrived from China. 

During the Ed6 period, Itami’s independence from bakufu and daimyo 
control resulted in the Konoe clan’s responsibilities being similar to 
those born by the bakufu and daimyo but this form of governance proved 
advantageous from a taxation point of view. The annual tax burden 
divided amongst the estimated number of households would have 
constituted “no more than a trifle” compared with tax rates imposed by 
the daimyos, which varied widely, but, generally, amounted to 30-40 per 
cent of a village’s assessed land productivity (Brechard, 2010: 25). 

Furthermore, a Konoe representative did not staff Itami’s town office: 
it was allowed to function as a semi-independent civil government. In 
1697, the Konoe formally placed administration and judicial affairs in 
the hands of an appointed council of twenty-four elders (sdshukur6). 
Council members were formalised with a “pseudo-aristocratic status” 
that entitled them more prestige and authority than village headmen. 
The council dispatched to Kyoto monthly reports of the town’s political, 
administrative and judicial affairs and was responsible for collecting and 
remitting taxes to Kyéto. This institution of local governance continued 
to operate until the Meiji Restoration when the Konoe family returned 
its land to the national government. 

40 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Merchant Organisations in the Ed6 Period 

Merchants were denied the means of achieving any degree of political 
power (unlike European merchants in medieval times). They were 
the lowest class in Neo-Confucian Japan because they were tainted for 
handling money and called “odious toads”. A close correlation can be 
found between the increase in production and the rapid development of 
commerce (Sheldon, 1958: 3). Initially, the main commodity traded by 
merchants was tax rice (kuramai) but there were other important traded 
commodities such as sugar, paper and indigo. Trading activities were 
conducted in the daimyo residence. 

Later, office locations shifted, and domain officials supervised the 
activities of the merchants who were forced into new types of organisations 
(monopolies) that prevented competition and gave protection (Sheldon, 
1958: 39-40). Government policy opposed monopolistic guilds" 
because of potential collusion with domain officials that would raise 
prices. Against official hostility, trade associates or guilds (nakama), and 
their divisions (kumi), developed as monopolistic organisations. The 
wholesaling functions were organised as family enterprises in a similar 
way to nakama and called ton’ya. As storage and shipping agents in rural 
areas began to compete against those located in the more major cities, 
merchant shippers turned away from the urban ton’ya to rely more 
heavily on those wholesalers in smaller towns who charged lower fees. 

Merchants ingratiated themselves with central and local government 
authorities with gifts and bribes in order to receive protection and 
special privileges in the early Tokugawa era. These protected merchants 
managed the huge construction projects across the country: construction 
of castles; daimyo residences and samurai quarters; temples; and 
warehouses. In the middle- to late-Tokugawa period, large family 
enterprises, with a main house and branch families, were created 
through a family constitution. Morck and Nakamura (2005: 371-373) 

11 Guilds, abolished under Oda Nobunaga, were reinstated over the course of the 
Edo period, with merchants paying a small fee for membership in organisations 
that enjoyed monopoly privileges at the marketplaces. The bakufu did permit 
certain monopolistic organisations: for policing and control; foreign trade at 
Nagasaki; pawnshops (Ed6 and Osaka); second-hand dealers (Ed6 and Osaka); 
public bathhouses (in Edo); and peddlers and hairdressers (Ed6). Entrance fees to 
government and a small annual membership fee were levied. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 41 

sketch out the early history of two of these family enterprises (Mitsui 
and Sumitomo). 

The financial influence of merchants in trade was on the ascendency. 
By the late 18th century, merchant houses worth more than 200,000 ryo 
numbered more than two hundred. With one ryo being ostensibly equal 
in value to one koku of rice, this made the wealth of these merchant 
houses equivalent to that of some of the wealthiest of daimyo. The 
financial status of the latter was on the decline with the imposition 
of the costs associated with the alternate year residency in the capital 
imposed by the Shogun. 

The bakufu was not very capable of (nor interested in) imposing 
any consistent economic policies because the semi-official orthodoxy of 
political economy was shushigaku or Neo-Confucianism”™ (Najita, 1998). 
Each han could decide its tax rates, and other economic regulations, or 
encourage certain industries (so long as it was not explicitly prohibited 
by the bakufu). Rice tax was levied by the daimyo on villages (not 
individual farmers), and village representatives allocated the rice tax 
burden amongst all villagers. Tax rice was stored in granaries on daimyo 
or Shogunal lands and was dispensed to their retainers as stipends. Tax 
rice was also sent to the various domain offices (kurayashiki) in the major 
towns, such as Osaka, where it was sold on the commercial market. 

The business responses to government policies by the Osaka 
merchants were to build the town’s infrastructure and its port, and to 
ensure that Osaka enjoyed a central function in the national economy 
through the rice trade at Dojima (see Chapter 3). The Osaka merchants 
developed an increasingly monopolistic grasp on the rice trade, 
determining prices not only within Osaka, but also in the entire Kinai 
(Home Provinces) area, that, indirectly, had a considerable impact on 
prices in Edo. Trade at the Osaka market was made through rice bills 
(kome kitte). The claim over rice in kind represented by the rice bill was 
protected by the bakufu and enforced by law. It was a means to reduce 
the transaction costs of trading large volumes of rice. 

According to McClain and Wakita (1999), rice merchants propelled 
Japan into a more modern era of economic development. Since 

12 The 397-volume dai nihon shi condemns the old aristocratic institutions as decadent 
whilst extolling the moral virtues of military governance (Kodansha, 1993: 544). See 
Najita (1998) and Culeddu (2009: 198-200) for more details on the Neo-Confucian 

42 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

samurai, including the daimyo were paid in rice, the rice brokers and 
moneychangers (fj? 5), ryogaeshd) played a crucial role in the emerging 
early modern economy of Japan. Over the course of the Edo period, 
the entire economy would not only shift from rice to coin, but would 
also see the introduction, and spread, of paper money initiated and 
facilitated by the Dojima organisations. In 1720, the bakufu authorised the 
concept of trading in futures (WE 2K or nobemai) as described by Moss 
and Kintgen (2009). 

Institutions and organisations dealing in rice were both complex and 
their relative positions changed over time. The Dojima Rice Exchange ( 
& EK Tdy, Dojima kome ichiba, 2 Pt) developed independently 
and privately as a wholesale market west of Osaka Castle on a slender 
island between the Shijima and Dojima rivers. The Rice Exchange was 
established in 1697 when the Yodoya merchant house received a license 
from the bakufu and became the most dominant enterprise. Enabling this 
sophisticated trading mechanism was a national distribution network 
and a judicial system established by the Shogunate. The Tokugawa 
Shogunate chartered the Rice Exchange in 1730.'* After being dissolved 
because of claims that merchants were hording rice during times of 
shortages it later became officially sanctioned, sponsored and organised 
again by the bakufu in 1773. The Rice Exchange was reorganised in 1868 
under the Meiji Restoration, before being dissolved entirely in 1939 
when it was absorbed into the National Government Rice Agency (H 

The Tokugawa government recognised it was unable to abolish the 
nakama and reversed its policy to create the regulatory framework under 
which commerce was to develop until 1843 (Sheldon, 1958: 110-130). 
As the bakufu’s financial position deteriorated in the late 18th century, 
and amidst widespread famines and rioting, forced loans were levied on 

13 In the first years of the 1730s, as the result of poor harvests and trade issues, the 
price of rice plummeted. Speculators and various conspiracies within the brokers’ 
community played games with the system, keeping vast stores of rice in the 
warehouses, which ensured low prices. The samurai, whose stipends were paid in 
rice, panicked over the exchange rate into coin. The bakufu set a price floor in 1735. 
Over the fifteen years or so, until roughly 1750, the government stepped in on a 
number of occasions to attempt to stabilise or to control the economy. Eventually, 
the Rice Exchange was reintroduced in 1773, under bakufu sponsorship, regulation, 
and organisation because the government finally understood the economic power 
of the Rice Exchange in supporting the national economy, determining exchange 
rates, and even creating paper money. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 43 

wealthy merchants. This emergency measure was used 16 times by the 
central government (Sheldon, 1958: 119). Eventually, the Tempo Reform 
(1841-1843) of Mizuno Tadakuni (1794-1851) gave orders to dissolve 
the ton’ya and nakama, thereby effectively destroying this specific 
organisation of commerce. With the interference of transport trading 
networks, Tadakuni resigned in 1843 and the monopolistic bodies were 
reinstated in 1851. 

The failure of this reform “showed that the Tokugawa Bakufu had 
lost its right to exist. The history of the Meiji Restoration had already 
begun” (Sheldon, 1958:129). The failure of reforms merely demonstrated 
an incapable and out-of-date government: it simply attempted to control 
the people with varying methods of austerity (Robinson-Yamaguchi, 
2015: 55-56). Corruption in government and society was becoming 
relatively commonplace and the scholarly social critic, Rai Sanyo (1780- 
1832) wrote Nihon Gaishi (Unofficial History of Japan) and presented it 
in 1827 to Matsudaira Sadanobu (1759-1829), a senior councillor in the 
Tokugawa bakufu, that made the case for governmental reform. 

Saito and Settsu (2006) explain in detail how capital was mobilised 
for rural-centred growth in production and commerce, and how the 
quasi-capital markets worked in both the Osaka economy and in the 
countryside. One thing that separated the Tokugawa financial systems 
from the those of the early-Meiji is that the late-Tokugawa local economies 
were never integrated into one national market. Links between the local 
domain economies were weak, and the Osaka-centred system of credit 
chain was virtually cut off from those of the growing rural economies 
(Saito and Settsu, 2006: 13). 

Pressure for political reform came also from organisations such as 
the Mito School of Thought, derived from Shintdism and Confucianism, 
and founded by Tokugawa Mitsukuni, daimyo of Mito province (now 
part of Ibaraki Prefecture). The School was established to compile the 
1720 edition of Dai Nihon Shi (History of Great Japan) but from 1841 
under Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860) the School fostered Western 
learning and “Sonno Joi” (“Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians”). 
This movement believed “the Emperor was the son of Heaven and thus 
the rightful ruler of Japan” and that “the foreign ‘barbarians’ had no 
right being in Japan, which to them was a “Divine Realm’” 
Yamaguchi, 2015: 50). 


44 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Kurofune and International Influences on Reform 

“Kurofune” is the Japanese term used to refer to all Western ships that 
legally visited Japan from the 16th century to the late 19th century 
through the designated port of entry at Nagasaki (the island of Dejima). 
These ships were painted black as their hulls were caulked with pitch 
and their wooden superstructures were tarred—unlike the colour of 
ships from China and Southeast Asia. In 1615, Tokugawa Ieyasu had 
issued a regulation that effectively stripped the Court of all but its ritual 
functions (Finer, 1997b: 1101) so the bakufu had never sought Imperial 
sanction for any of its political decisions—that is until Commodore 
Perry of the United States appeared in Japanese waters with his black 
ships and a letter to the Emperor politely requesting that Japan enter into 
international trade relations and open up selective ports to American 
ships for refuelling and taking on provisions. 

In June 1853, the U.S. East India Fleet, commanded by Commodore 
Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858), entered Uraga Harbour near Yokohama, 
where his four, well built, black ships left a deep impression on the 
Japanese people. He presented to the Shogun his credentials and a letter 
from the President of the United States of America that proposed open 
maritime trade. All political forces in Japan had unanimously reinforced 
an isolationist policy but the uneasy presence of American gunboats left 
the bakufu with no alternative but to sign a treaty of friendship with the 
United States of America. 

In March 1854, acceding to Commodore Perry’s demands that were 
backed by threats of armed force, the government of Japan signed a 
“Treaty of Peace and Amity between the Emperor of Japan and the United 
States of America.” In 1858, the bakufu was obliged to sign another treaty 
of amity and commerce with Townsend Harris, the Consul-General of 
the United States of America. The bakufu were apprehensive about the 
views of the Imperial Court on the signing of these treaties and sought 
Imperial sanction for the treaty of amity and commerce (Ishii, 1980: 
94). The Court denied permission through an Imperial edict and this 
dealt a humiliating blow to enlist cooperation and advice from other 
daimyo who ultimately challenged the bakufu’s legitimacy to monopolise 
political power. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 45 

The “Treaty of Amity and Commerce” was followed by similar 
treaties signed with Holland, Russia, the United Kingdom and France 
(McOmie, 2006; Natalizia, 2014). They were unequal treaties in the sense 
that Japan had no jurisdiction over foreigners in their country, there was 
no Tokugawa government control over trade and no control over the 
money exchange rate. This resulted in a large outflow of Japanese gold 
(Sano, 2013: 8). The opening-up of a few Japanese ports to foreign trade 
(Sadler, 1937: 239-245) caused dissent amongst some of the daimyo of the 
western provinces that eventually led to a coup (Sadler, 1937: 246-257). 

Antecedents to the Meiji Restoration 

After 1858 some daimyo from the western provinces established direct 
contact with the Court and the Court itself began to re-engage in political 
activities. One of the most powerful of the tozama domains, Choshi, led 
those who called for an overthrow of the bakufu, whilst another tozama 
domain, Satsuma, wanted a power-sharing relationship with the bakufu, 
the Court and other prominent tozama domains. Japanese historians 
point to 1858 as the starting point of “the modern period”. 

At this point, it is worth interjecting a note on the role played by 
a Scottish-born entrepreneur, Thomas Glover (1838-1911), who moved 
from Shanghai to Nagasaki in 1859 to manage the newly established 
Nagasaki office of Jardine, Matheson & Company, initially exporting 
green tea. The daimyo of Satsuma commissioned Glover to build six saw 
factories and three sugar factories that provided the industrial might 
to finance the Imperialist military stockpile. In addition, he smuggled 
out of Japan, through the port of Yokohama, Its Hirobumi and Inoue 
Kaoru, two of the “Chéshi Five”, to attend lectures in the Chemistry 
Department at University College London. They returned full of 
enthusiasm for Western technology and British products. 

In the autumn of 1865, Glover had facilitated an illegal arms trade 
through Satsuma to Choshi. In February of the following year, he 
sold Satsuma sixteen steamers—all aimed to destroy the bakufu. This 
trade allowed Chosht to arm 11,000 frontline forces with Minié rifles 
that had an effective range of 550 metres against the 46 metres of the 
bakufu’s antiquated muskets. This gave Choshti the technological edge 
necessary to defeat the bakufu in a military campaign in July 1866. Other 

46 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

British citizens also meddled in Japanese affairs on the back of various 

Kawashima (2020: 89) explains that the “intricate subtleties of 
the Meiji Restoration” cannot be reduced to a simple polarity of 
conservatives versus reformists as it took place against the backdrop of 
“the cross-pollination” of varying ideologies. The details of a complex 
series of events may be found in Beasley (1972) and in Kodansha 
(1993: 948-953). In essence, internal dissention in Japan over foreign 
relations and the refusal of Emperor Komei (reigned 1846-1867) to 
sign the foreign treaties were important factors in the overthrow of the 
Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868. In addition to the opening of more ports to 
international trade (Hakodate, Nagasaki, Yokohama, Hydgo, Osaka and 
Niigata), a more punitive measure in 1866 was the reduction of duties to 
a uniform rate of 5 per cent ad valorem. 

This political situation forced Emperor Komei to assume a more 
active role in state affairs than any of his predecessors. As the U.S.A. and 
European powers were demanding that Japan be opened to trade, the 
Emperor insisted that Japan should remain “closed” and the “Western 
Barbarians” be expelled. The Emperor wanted a closer unity of the Court 
and the Tokugawa Shdgunate to repel external pressures on Japan’s 
sovereignty (Todd, 1991: 203), although this alliance never eventuated. 

Within Japan, it had become increasingly obvious that the old social 
order of shinokéshé (hierarchy of samurai at the top, followed by farmers 
and artisans, with merchants being at the bottom) no longer reflected 
the reality of life. Intellectuals, such as Motori Norinaga (1730-1801) 
and Aizawa Seishisai (1781-1863), influenced the sonnd joi (@E# 
%) movement and this ultimately contributed to the weakening of the 
Tokugawa regime (Pickl-Kolaczia, 2017: 202-203). 

14 British businessmen, in trying to promote trade, helped drain the bakufu’s finances. 
On 22 October 1864 a convention was signed in compensation for Choshti’s blockade 
of shipping in the Shimonoseki Straits. The British Government demanded that the 
bakufu either pay an indemnity of U.S. $300,000 (U.S. $4.95 million in 2020 prices), 
or, as the British Government preferred that Japan open another “treaty port”. After 
the Imperial ratification by the Emperor, Sir Ernest Satow (1843-1929), a British 
Diplomat (Brailey, 1992), recounts that rather than risk the unpopularity of opening 
another port, the bakufu agreed to pay, but only in instalments. This proposal 
illustrates the tremendous burden that these indemnities placed on bakufu finances 
estimated to be about the equivalent of one-third of annual revenue. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 47 

Emperor Komei was to be the symbol of a new era for Japan with 
the protagonists behind the Meiji Restoration aiming to create a 
strong and positive image of the Emperor amongst the population, 
including his elevated position in this world and his divine status as 
a direct descendant of Amaterasu. At the core of this restoration of the 
institution of Emperor stood a system of ancestral worship that befitted 
the Imperial Family. While such a system had existed between the 7th 
and 9th century, it was all but forgotten during the Edo era. 

The renewal of this systematic ancestral worship during the Bunkyii 
era (1861-1864) included the restoration of decayed Imperial tombs 
(Pickl-Kolaczia, 2017: 203). The main protagonist behind the Bunkyti 
Restoration was Toda Tadayuki (1809-1883) from Utsunomiya who 
successfully petitioned the bakufu to allocate a budget that allowed 58 
tombs and places of cremation to be restored or completely recreated 
between 1862 and 1865 (Pickl-Kolaczia, 2017: 212). 

Following clashes in 1864 and 1866 between the Tokugawa 
government and Chosht forces, both tozama domains, with support 
from several influential Court nobles, agreed to work jointly to restore 
Imperial rule. On 9 November 1867, Choshii and Satsuma obtained 
Imperial permission to attack bakufu forces: the Shogun, Tokugawa Keiki, 
the 15th and last Shogun, was declared an Enemy of the Court and all 
bakufu domains were confiscated. 

Modern Monarchy 

Meiji Era 

The years from 1868 to 1912, when Emperor Mutsuhito died, are referred 
to as the Meiji era. Emperor Mutsuhito succeeded to the position of “chief 
of the warriors” with the rights of the daimyo remaining intact. The Meiji 
Restoration represented not only internal reform (Allinson and Anievas, 
2010)—an example of institutional persistence (Ogata, 2015)—but a 
signal to the international community that “Japan had embarked upon 
the path of ‘modernization’” (Kawashima, 2020: 89). On 6 April 1868, 
Emperor Meiji issued the Charter Oath, which promised that assemblies 
would be established to deal with all matters through public discussion 
and that “evil feudalistic customs of the past” would be abolished. The 

48 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

han lands and their subjects were returned to the Emperor in 1869, but 
it was not until 1871 when the han system was finally abolished (Ishii, 
1980: 96). The former feudal lords were required to return their lands to 
the Emperor in 1870. 

The Meiji government from 1868 to 1881 was greatly influenced by 
European legal theory, especially the French liberal doctrine of popular 
rights (Sims, 1998). In the government’s restoration of the ancient 
system of Imperial rule, it also resurrected the ritsuryo antecedents 
and the Sinified legal system. Renewal was generated through “the 
‘revival of antiquity’” (Kawashima, 2020: 89). Ramaioli (2021) explains 
how kokutai (E|{4&)—the spiritual notion of the essence of the Japanese 
polity—interacts with the constitutional model Japan has adopted since 
the Meiji Restoration. 

On 6 April 1868, the Emperor issued a five-article Charter Oath 
outlining the principles to be followed by his government (Ishii, 1980: 98). 
On 3 January 1868, a formal declaration was issued of the restoration of 
the Emperor along with a new administrative structure that conformed 
to the ancient style of direct Imperial control over political affairs. Three 
new posts were established directly under the Emperor: prime minister; 
senior councillors; and junior councillors. 

In June, the new government adopted a new fundamental 
law (seitaisho) that contained a mixture of ancient Japanese and 
American concepts of public administration: the tripartite division of 
governmental powers—legislative assembly (giseikan) with its upper 
and lower chambers; judiciary (keihokan); and executive administration 

These sweeping reforms transformed Japan from a feudal society toa 
modern industrial state, and that led to the administrative restructuring 
of the country into prefectures that exist today. The men responsible 
for this implementation of centralised and prefectural systems were 
Kido Koin and Okubo Toshimichi—samurai from Choshi and Satsuma 
respectively (Taylor, 2007: 3). Samurai reinvented themselves as 
bureaucrats in central and local administration (Pasca, 2016: 125), and 
became “the brains” in Japan’s push to modernise, “but the merchants 
were the muscle, as they carried the whole financial burden of such an 
enterprise” (Pasca, 2016: 122). 

An Imperial edict of 1881 stated that a parliament would open in 1890 
with preparatory work studying the constitutions of other countries. A 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 49 

parliament that opened in November 1890—the First Imperial Diet-—was 
convened and Japan became a constitutional monarchy along with the 
implementation of a new constitution (Ishii, 1980: 114-116). The new 
regime placed heavy emphasis on the importance of the Emperor in 
ruling Japan. The Diet (Parliament) was established, with the Emperor 
placed as the sovereign of state hierarchically at the head of the army, 
navy, executive and legislative powers. 

Following more than a millennium of precedent, the ruling elder 
statesmen (genrd) held the actual power to run the state. The Meiji 
Constitution was finally promulgated in 1889, investing the Emperor with 
full sovereignty and declaring him “sacred and inviolable” (Kodansha, 
1998: 950). The system of national government (the Imperial Household 
Agency; Diet as the Lower House), provincial government and local 
government were created, and all institutions were modernised along 
Western lines. 

The basis for Japan’s current style of government was founded in 
this period by emulating the, then, “superior” Western powers. Japan 
sent various delegations to major Western societies in order to study and 
emulate their parliaments and bureaucracies. From this international 
scanning, specific institutions were seen as leading examples of 
dominant models. Some traditional modes of thought continued: the 
ideal of bokumin was reproduced as part of the administrative ideology 
of the new Home Ministry, going on to inform the elitist ethos of that 
institution until its dissolution in 1947 (Brown, 2006: 293). 

As the government’s program of regional integration gained pace a 
new structure of central administration was required. Seven ministries 
were created: civil affairs; finance; foreign affairs; Imperial Household; 
industrial affairs; justice; and military affairs. As the han system 
was abolished—to be replaced by prefecture governments—further 
adjustments were made to the central administration (Ishii, 1980: 102- 
112). Communications was added to the above ministries as authority 
was transferred to a cabinet in 1885 based again along European 
lines. Ports, harbours, railways, roads and other types of economic 
infrastructure were established at this time. The Meiji-era creation of a 
professional bureaucracy, and the efforts of non-party political elites in 
the late Taisho and early Showa periods, were to counter the expansion 
of party power. 

50 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The Meiji era commenced with no private entrepreneurs who had the 
capital or confidence to modernise the economy. In the first fifteen years 
of the Meiji period, the government transformed the economy from an 
agrarian one to an industrialised state by investing in public works such 
as railways, shipping, communication, ports, and lighthouses. The Meiji 
government enacted the 1894 Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and 
Navigation, a long-awaited event that put an end to half a century of 
national humiliation by eliminating foreign rights of extraterritoriality 
and largely restoring tariff autonomy (Phipps, 2015: 1). The Meiji 
government also invested a high percentage of national revenue in 
importing Western technology and expertise. 

The Japanese searched the world for the best institutions of capitalism 
and changed their institutions more radically and more often than in 
any other major industrial economy (Morck and Nakamura, 2005: 367). 
In the late 19th century, the government capitalised and subsidised 
numerous state-owned enterprises, but failures triggered a fiscal 
crisis. To restore public finances, Japan implemented a policy of mass 
privatisation (Morck and Nakamura, 2007: 4). Wealthy family merchant 
houses of the Edo period (Mitsui, Sumitomo), and other entrepreneurs, 
assembled former state-owned enterprises into zaibatsu. 

At the apex of a zaibatsu pyramid was a family partnership (later a 
family corporation), which controlled several public corporations, each 
of which controlled other public corporations, each of which controlled 
yet other public companies, and so on. The families organised a new 
firm to float equity for each new venture and organised them into 
pyramidal groups. Corporate governance in Japan was characterised by 
the zaibatsu until they were dismantled by American occupying forces 
in 1945. 

Decline of Constitutional Monarchy, 1931-1945 

The decline of a constitutional monarchy in Japan from 1931 to 1945 can 
be attributed to the rise of military influences—not entirely unrelated 
to the expansion of Japan’s overseas territories. Taiwan (Formosa) and 
the Pescadores were ceded by China as a result of the Sino-Japanese 
War (1894-1895), the southern half of Sakhalin Island (southward from 
latitude 50 degrees) became Japanese territory following the Russo- 
Japanese War (1904-1905), Korea was annexed in 1910 and, after the 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 51 

First World War (when Japan was a Western ally), those South Sea 
islands north of the equator that were former German colonial territories 
were placed under Japanese mandate. 

A neo-colonial expansionist philosophy emerged along with the 
administration of new territories. Ignoring government policy of the 
non-proliferation of warfare, military forces took over Manchuria in 
March 1932 and installed Puyi as Head of State and, in 1934, as the 
puppet Chinese Emperor of Manchuku6. In May 1932, a group of naval 
officers and non-commissioned officers assassinated the Japanese Prime 
Minister and the Japanese President that brought an end to political party 
government with the introduction of “National Unity” cabinets (Ishii, 
1980: 122). The National General Mobilization Act of 1938 deprived the 
Diet of the right to deliberate on state affairs. The military government 
policy was promulgated by invoking the Emperor’s authority. 

During the Pacific War, government institutions replaced 
corporate organisations. Japan nationalised many major corporations, 
subordinating them to central planning. The Temporary Funds 
Adjustments Law of 1937 created the Kikakuin (Planning Agency) to 
direct economic planning and administration following Soviet models 
of the 1930s (Morck and Nakamura, 2005: 368-369). Corporate boards 
had to obtain government approval to make any important decisions, 
such as changing their articles of incorporation or issuing equity and 
debt. In 1939, further government decrees abolished boards’ rights to set 
dividends. In 1943, another decree abolished boards’ rights to appoint 
managers and reassigned this power to the Kikakuin. 

Modern Democratic State, 1945-2022 

What happened to institutions and organisations in the contemporary 
period is only sketched in outline because there is an abundance of 
available documentation for the reader to pursue this topic in more detail 
(for example, Burks, 1966). What is essential to note here is there was a 
new definition of the Emperor as “a non-divine symbol of the Japanese 
nation (as he was declared to be in an Imperial rescript on January 1, 
1946)” (Ishii, 1980: 130). Within two weeks of Japan’s surrender in the 
Pacific War, Allied occupying forces began landing on Honshu. The 
main administrative body for the Occupation was technically the Far 
Eastern Commission, headquartered in Washington and made up of 

52. A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

representatives of the thirteen nations who had fought Japan. In Tokyo, 
the Allied Council (representing the U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Britain and China) 
was to oversee policy implementation. 

However, real power rested with the U.S.A., especially the Supreme 
Allied Commander of the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur, who was 
given the responsibility of supervising the dismantling of the Japanese 
war machine and its socioeconomic underpinnings (Andressen, 2002: 
118). On 2 October 1945, in Toky6, the General Headquarters of the 
Allied Powers was formally established under the direction of General 
MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP). A 
draft of a new constitution originated in the General Headquarters 
of the Allied Powers and underwent very minor modifications by the 
Japanese Government before receiving Imperial sanction. Six months 
later on 3 November 1946 the new constitution came into effect. It stated 
that sovereignty is vested in the people while the Emperor is regarded 
simply as a symbol of state (Ishii, 1980: 130). 

The constitution, written by U.S. occupation staff and imposed upon 
a reluctant Japanese government after Japanese authorities failed to 
make satisfactory progress in the view of occupation leaders, still serves 
as the foundation of Japanese democracy (Andressen, 2002: 113). The 
new American-designed constitution, written in under a week, was 
based on the British model, which was closer to Japan’s pre-war system 
than America’s (Andressen, 2002: 120). 

In dismantling Japan’s war industries, the big four zaibatsu (Mitsui, 
Mitsubishi, Yasuda and Sumitomo) were special targets: 83 of their 
holding companies were broken up. Approximately 3,000 senior 
businessmen were removed from their jobs. The smaller subsidiary 
companies were separated from the core businesses, and their ability 
to work together was limited by tax reform and laws against collusion 
(such as the Anti-Monopoly Law of 1947). In 1948, with a relaxation 
of the policy of purging the zaibatsu, a modified form of the zaibatsu, 
called the keiretsu kigyo (‘aligned companies’) emerged. They were 
similar in structure to their predecessors though more loosely linked 
and no longer family owned. They did, however, retain their original 
appellations, so, once again, the names Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Yasuda and 
Sumitomo became commonplace in Japan (Andressen, 2002: 124). 

Under the 1946 Constitution a bicameral Diet was established as 
the highest organ of authority, with the House of Representatives and 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 53 

a House of Councillors (both popularly elected) as a Lower House. 
Executive power is vested in the Cabinet—responsible to the Diet. The 
Japanese Constitution importantly gave encouragement to local self- 
government and to administrative decentralisation. Until 1994, the 
House of Representatives consisted of 512 members elected from 130 
districts, with each electoral district having anywhere from two to six 
Diet seats. In 1994, the lower-house system was significantly modified 
to 300 single-member districts throughout Japan, where local voters 
choose lower house members and 200 seats in eleven national blocks 
that are awarded based on proportional representation (Ellington, 2002: 

In the post-war period, the Japanese economy recovered: Japan was 
given foreign aid to build up its infrastructure and industrial base (the 
1947 American aid budget for the country was approximately U.S. $400 
million (Andressen, 2002: 124). The historical development of policies 
and institutions related to the manufacturing industry post-1949 are 
summarised by the World Bank (2020, Table 2.1, pp. 29-31). With the 
end of the Allied Occupation in 1952 the machinery of government was 
formally returned to Japanese control. Following the end of the U.S. 
occupation, Japanese firms began pre-empting takeovers by acquiring 
white squire positions in each other (Morck and Nakamura, 2005: 369). A 
white squire is a friendly firm that buys a block of stock in a target firm to 
protect it from a raider. If the friendly firm takes the target over entirely, 
it is called a white knight. Major banks were often engaged in arranging 
these inter-corporate equity placements. These holdings, the keiretsu 
system of the 1950s, expanded in the 1960s, and are characteristic of 
Japanese big business today. 

The conservative Liberal and Democratic parties dominated. The 
first Prime Minister of note was Yoshida Shigeru (1878-1967), a pre- 
war diplomat who was appointed Prime Minister in 1946 with the goal 
to restore the fundamental characteristics of Japanese society, “while 
maintaining the values of the Meiji restoration—a strong government 
and a regulated society” (Andressen, 2002: 122). The event that 
dramatically changed the structure of Japan’s economy was the outbreak 
of the Korean War in June 1950. 

The American military, which became part of a larger U.N. force, had 
to secure a massive supply of war items very quickly to stop the sudden 
invasion of South Korea by the North. The result was U.S. $4 billion (U.S. 

54 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

$43 billion in 2020 prices) in orders for Japanese companies for “special 
procurements” (tokuju), consisting primarily of motor vehicles, textiles 
and communications equipment—the subsequent development of these 
industries propelled Japan as a global manufacturing giant (Andressen, 
2002: 125). 

The Japanese often refer to the 1960s as the ‘Golden Years’. It was a 
time when Japanese society came together to rebuild the country and 
the result was astounding economic success. Ikeda Hayato (1899-1965; 
Prime Minister from 1960-1964) announced in 1960 that Japanese per 
capita incomes would double by 1970 (they did so by 1967), to US. 
$2,800 (in 2020 prices). Economic growth gave citizens a clear, common 
goal (“GNP nationalism” ) around which they could organise their social 
institutions (Andressen, 2002: 137). In 1964, Japan joined the group of 
industrialised nations—the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and 
Development (OECD)—and became the third largest economy in the 
world (behind the U.S.A. and West Germany) by the end of the decade. 
GNP had increased approximately six-fold between 1970 and 1990 
(Andressen, 2002: 176). 

However, the end of the ‘bubble economy’ caused widespread 
damage and loss of confidence—both in the economy and in the 
government during the 1990s with stagnation that was exacerbated by 
an ageing population. From 1992 onwards various stimulus packages 
were produced, including massive injections of money (U.S. $84 billion 
in 1992, U.S. $119 billion in 1993, U.S. $150 billion in 1994, U.S. $75 billion 
in 1995, U.S. $123 billion in 1998 and U.S. $137 billion in 1999) as well as 
tax cuts, and financial aid to banks and smaller businesses. 

Bank bailouts were a particular focus with the establishment of a 
‘pridge bank’ in 1998 to take over some U.S. $540 billion in bank debt, 
thereby isolating the problem and eliminating widespread bankruptcies 
in this sector. Bank mergers were also organised (Sumitomo and Sakura 
Banks, and Asahi and Tokai Banks) to strengthen the banking sector, but 
this also led to substantial job losses. These measures failed to revive the 
economy, partly because much of the money was spent on infrastructure 
projects (U.S. $183 billion since 1998 alone). All that infrastructure 
spending achieved was to reinforce the ‘cozy relationship’ between the 
Japanese government (especially the Ministry of Construction) and 
construction companies. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 55 

Fundamental political reform did not seem to be forthcoming 
(Andressen, 2002: 185). This demonstrates the considerable inertia in 
a conservative government system. National government bureaucrats 
were the academic elite who were recruited from the top of the classes of 
the very best Japanese universities (Ellington, 2002: 119). Bureaucratic 
style was reinforced by informal personal connections—usually begun 
at university. Andressen (2002: 9) suggests that politicians have little 
time to gain expertise within a portfolio and therefore tend to formulate 
new laws based on the lobbying from business and their electorates. 

The implication is that “over time the bureaucracy has come to be a 
centre of power, often seemingly independent of politicians”. However, 
competition between bureaucrats and their departments “tends to 
..inhibit change” (Andressen, 2002: 9). The conservative nature of 
Japanese politics reflects the ongoing tension between different sources 
of power in Japan. The question ‘Who runs Japan?’ was considered in 
the mid 1990s by the journalist, Karl van Wolferen, who published The 
Enigma of Japanese Power (van Wolferen, 1989). This was followed by 
Chalmers Johnson’s Japan: Who Governs? Conventional wisdom has it 
that there exists an “iron triangle” of power in the Japan: big business; 
bureaucrats; and politicians (Andressen 2002: 148-149). From a survey 
of 1,600 civic society organisations, they think they have no influence on 
government policy making (Tsujinaka and Pekkanen, 2007). 

Along with these economic problems came political ones. Some 
argue that with the passing of Emperor Hirohito in early 1989 there was 
some concern (especially amongst the older Japanese) over cultural 
continuity because the institution of Emperor has long been the cultural 
core of Japanese society. There were concerns that a younger, more 
outward-looking Emperor might undermine the 63 years of stability 
that saw the country through the worst period in its history. However, 
the pomp and circumstance of the November 1990 accession ceremonies 
of the new Emperor (Akihito) reinforced, rather than undermined, the 
country’s cultural traditions. 


Table 3 summarises who were the dominant institutions at the national 
government level in Japanese society from ancient times to Japan 

56 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

in 2022. The stability (or collapse) of a political community must be 
distinguished from the collapse of a regime—synonymous with the 
form of rule or the form of polity (Finer, 1997a: 14). Regimes may change 
but perhaps not so rapidly as political communities do. Similarly, the 
people at the top of the hierarchy of these legitimate regimes are simply 
those who hold the authority roles at any one point in time. As decision- 
making authorities their turnover may be very rapid without in any way 
altering the essential characteristics of the regime itself. 

Table 3. Dominant Japanese Institutions from Ancient Times to 2022. 
Source: Author. 

Time Period Western Dominant Institution 
Archaic 250 B.C.-603 Independent clan chiefs; Unification of 
A.D. territories—Yamato State; Emperor 
Ancient 603-967 Emperor and Court Nobility 
Medieval 967-1467 Marginalisation of Emperor; Rise 

of Warrior Houses; Kamakura & 
Muromachi Shogunates 

Early Modern | 1467-1858 Civil War; Unification; Tokugawa 
Shogunate; bakuhan government 
Modern 1858-1945 Restoration of Divine Emperor; System 

of democratic government: Military 
dominating government 
Contemporary | 1945-2022 Defeat in War; Non-divine Emperor; 
New Constitution 

What were the main factors, and the key events, that help explain the 
institutional change in governance summarised in the above table? In 
summary, Table 4 identifies the key historical events in the six broad 
time periods that brought about the transitions of national institutions 
of governance in Japan. The transitions cover the archaic, ancient, 
medieval, early modern, modern and contemporary periods. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 57 

Table 4. Major Factors Explaining Institutional Change in Japan. 
Source: Author. 

Time Period Major Events 

Archaic Jomon hunter-gathers replaced by Yayoi migration from 
continental Asia and establishment of clans (uji chiefs); 
Kingdom federations—territory expansion through war, 
marriage and kinship ties; consolidation of Yamato State; 
Royalty evoked a divine race whose ancestors came from 
Heaven (based on Esoteric Daoism or mystical Shintoism) 
creation of institution of Emperor; Court-appointed 
governors administer the country; Territorial expansion at 
expense of indigenous Emishi (Ainu) 

Ancient Imperial House controls Japan; Consolidation of 

power Emperor’s administration supplants that of the 
independent chieftains; Taika Reform (646) creates 
military position of seii taishogun; Taiho Code (702) adopts 
Chinese-style law and Chinese-inspired ritsuryo codes and 
Confucian social order 

Medieval Estate administration by court nobles delegated to land 
stewards leading the rise of the military class; Warrior 
Houses; Marginalisation of Emperor; Government by 
military Kamakura and Muromachi Shogunates 

Early Modern __| Civil War; Unification of Japan; Military government by 
Tokugawa shogunate with 250 years of peace; Bakuhan 
system of government; Increasing influence of foreign 
nations; Weakening of Tokugawa bakufu and victory to 
Chosht and Satsuma daimyos 

Modern Restoration of Divine Emperor; System of Western 
democratic government; Modernisation of bureaucracy; 
Rise of military 

Contemporary | Defeat in Second World War; Non-divine Emperor; Modern 
democratic nation; Hosting Summer Olympics in 1964 & 

Who were the individuals behind some of these changes in the 
evolutionary paths of national institutions? As Griffis (1915: 54-55) 
points out that the origins of two modern Japanese parties can be traced 
to the era 1575 to 1604. The idea of the “Federalist” is traced to Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi whereas the Imperialists are traced back to the daimyos of 

58 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Satsuma and Choshi in their influential role leading to the restoration 
of the Emperor to power. The elder statesmen of the Meiji period (1868- 
1912) were Okubo Toshimichi (1830-1878) and Its Hirobumi (1841- 
1909). Table 5 puts a name against the institutional changes identified in 
Tables 3 and 4 despite the inherent problem of over-simplification and 


Table 5. Selected Key Players in National Institutional Change in Japan 
from Archaic Times to the Present Day. 

Source: Author. 

Transformative Event and Date 


Yamatai State created from coalition of chiefdoms 
(c. 200) 

Queen Himiko 

Imperial House gains control of Western Japan 

Fujiwara no 
Kamatari; Prince 
Naka no Oe 

Oath of allegiance: principle that Emperor should 
rule the state not the chieftains (645); Taika Reform 
edict (646) 

Emperor Kotoku 

Taiho Code—Compilation and adoption of the 
Chinese-style law penal administrative law (702) 

Prince Osakabe; 
Fujiwara no Fuhito 

Imperial Court officially recognise Kamakura 

Minamoto no 

organisations—issue of two decrees (the ‘sword- 
hunt’ edict; and an anti-piracy regulation (1588) 

Shogunate when warrior families throughout Japan Yoritomo 
pledge loyalty the “chief of the warrior houses” 

(buke no toryo) (1193) 

Formation of Muromachi Shogunate (1338) Ashikaga Takauji 
Muromachi Shdgunate ousted from Kydto (1573); Oda Nobunaga 
Ashikaga Yoshiaki resigned as Shogun (1588) 

Eradication and state incorporation of “piracy” Toyotomi Hideyoshi 

Battle of Sekigahara confirmed the hegemony of 
Tokugawa Ieyasu (1600); Tokugawa Shogunate 
(1603) that governed for two-and-a-half centuries 

Tokugawa Ieyasu 

to attack bakufu forces (1867) and the Meiji 

Foreign demands—the U.S. East India Fleet Commodore 
enters Uraga Harbour; international treaties and a Matthew Perry 
selective open port policy (1853) 

Choshi and Satsuma obtain Imperial permission Daimyos of Chosha 

and Satsuma 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 59 

Transformative Event and Date Instigator 
Japan modernises and a colonial power; Defeated General Douglas 
in Second World War; Occupation forces write new MacArthur 
constitution and a bicameral Diet (1946) 
Modern, democratic state welcomed by the Government of Japan 
international community by hosting Tokyo 
Olympics in 1964 and 2021 

The limited and restrictive policies of the Tokugawa military regime 
during the Edo period largely ignored economic development in a 
predominantly agrarian society. When an appraisal of those government 
services is made (Finer, 1997b: 1114-1123) there is clearly no direct 
involvement that relates to transport—except in the area of taxation 
policy with its implications on the physical movement of rice. The 
expansion of commerce was in the hands of the merchant class. 

The new institutional economics suggests that dependency paths do 
get reversed. The case of the Dojima Rice Exchange demonstrates that 
over its three-century history it variously served private interests before 
becoming an arm of the Japanese national government. The merchants 
originally set the detailed rules for trade in the rice market, including 
the tradition of tipping a bucket of water to indicate the suspension of 
daily trading that determined the price of rice. Following the collapse 
of the Tokugawa government, a new rice marketing system, the Osaka 
Dojima Komesho Kaisho, was established then renamed in 1893 as the 
Osaka Dojima Beikoku Torihikisho (Osaka Dodjima Rice Market Place). 
The government-sponsored Nihon Beikoku Kabushiki Kaisha (Japan Rice 
Company Limited) absorbed this in 1939 to control rice distribution and 
its price during a period of scarcity. From 1968 onwards the government 
has been taking measures to cope with a rice surplus (Hayami and 
Godo, 1997; Kodansha, 1998: 1263). 

Another example of reversing path dependency is that the Tokugawa 
government recognised it was unable to abolish merchant guilds and 
reversed its policy to create the regulatory framework under which 
commerce was to develop until 1843. As the bakufu’s financial position 
deteriorated in the late 18th century, and amidst widespread famines 
and rioting, forced loans were levied on wealthy merchants—and this 

60 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

emergency measure was used 16 times by the central government. 
Eventually, the Tempo Reform (1841-1843) dissolved the ton’ya and 
nakama, thereby effectively destroying this specific organisation 
of commerce. However, with the disruption to trading networks 
monopolistic bodies were reinstated in 1851. 

From around 1,100 guilds (za) sprang up under the protection of 
regional warlords but it was not until the Muromachi period that 
they monopolised the production, transport and sale of commodities. 
Peasants who made such products also formed themselves under the 
protection of a powerful noble family or a religious patron into guilds. 
During the Onin no Ran, warlords holding land increased yields, and, 
in fact, promoted and recognised commerce through the za system. 
Merchants opposed guilds as being monopolistic and restrictive of 
trade. Guilds were officially abolished nationally around 1590 by the 
feudal lords Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi to encourage free 
markets but then encouraged new guilds under their protection. 

At first, the merchant trading activities were conducted in the daimyo 
residence, but, later, office locations shifted elsewhere where domain 
officials supervised the activities. Merchants were forced into new 
types of organisations that were protective in nature: organisations that 
prevented competition (monopolies); merchant-class solidarity; and 
protection. Government policy opposed monopolistic guilds because of 
potential collusion with officials that would raise prices. Samurai and 
peasant classes alike supported this policy. Against official hostility, 
trade associates or guilds developed. 

Institutions and organisations dealing in rice were both complex and 
their relative positions changed over time. The Dojima Rice Exchange 
developed in Osaka in 1697 independently and privately as a wholesale 
market through a license from the Tokugawa Shogunate. Enabling this 
sophisticated trading mechanism was a national distribution network 
and a judicial system established by the Shdgunate. The Rice Exchange 
was chartered in 1730 but was then dissolved because of claims that 
merchants were hoarding rice during times of shortages. In 1773, it 
became officially sanctioned, sponsored and organised again by the 
bakufu. The Rice Exchange was reorganised in 1868 under the Meiji 
Restoration, before being dissolved entirely in 1939 when it was absorbed 
into the National Government Rice Agency. 

2. Japanese Institutions and Organisations 61 

During the Tokugawa Shégunate, the jurisdictional governance of 
land in Japan was predominantly the bakuhan system although counter- 
intuitive examples of local government by the merchant class can be 
found. For example, in the late 17th century, a merchant council of 24 
members from sake brewing houses in Itami County were assigned the 
task of local administration (see Table 3). The merchant administration 
lasted until 1871 when the daimyo land was returned to the Meiji 

The Meiji government introduced the institution of capitalism 
(Allinson and Anievas, 2010). During its crash modernisation, Japan 
adopted a legal system largely based on German civil law. Thus, 
Japanese law was subjected to a variety of old and new (external) 
influences (Ishii, 1980: 91-92). Public bond trading began in the 1870s, 
and in 1878 the Tokyd and Osaka Stock Exchanges were formed and 
subjected to regulation under the Stock Exchange Ordinance. Leading 
merchant families issued stock to finance industrialisation, and the 
great pyramidal zaibatsu groups were formed and came to dominate the 
Japanese economy. They were dismantled during the Allied Occupation 
of Japan when a new form of corporate governance emerged in the 
1950s—the keiretsu formed as a defence mechanism against corporate 
takeovers (Morck and Nakamura, 2005: 434). 

In the contemporary politics of the Western World, and of Japan, it 
is the transport bureaucracies, in one form or another, that have been 
permanent features of governments for over a century or more. Modern 
transport bureaucracies are relatively permanent and unchanging in the 
short- to medium-term and can be thought of as a fixture of the regime. 
The story as to how transport was organised and administered from 
archaic times to the present unfolds in the subsequent chapters. 


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3. Ports and Shipping 

The cherry trees are in full bloom 
Now, while at the palace by the sea 
Of wave-bright Naniwa... 

13th Day of the Second Month, 755 A. D.! 


As a maritime nation, both domestic trade on coastal ships and 
international shipping trade through Japanese seaports have been the 
engines of the country’s economic prosperity. In this chapter, the prime 
focus is on ports in the Osaka Bay at the eastern end of the Seto Inland 
Sea. The historical time period is from archaic times to the present day. 
The themes of port-related institutions and organisations in the Osaka 
Bay region are broadly representative of ports in other parts of Japan. 

The justification for this choice of Osaka Bay is that it has a rich 
maritime history that has been documented continuously from the time 
when the Emperor moved his capital and established the Port of Naniwa 
(from the Kojiki, 712 A. D. and the Nihon Shoki, 720 A. D.). Furthermore, 
institutional changes to port ownership and administration described 
for Osaka Bay for over a millennium can be translated to the evolution 
of ports in other parts of Japan, especially during the period since the 
Second World War. 

This chapter does not attempt to describe the configuration of 
ancient and medieval ports or to recount the physical changes in scale 
and function to seaports. An ancient mariner returning to the shoreline 
of Osaka Bay (formerly called Naniwa Bay) clearly would not recognise 
the vast extent of land reclamation at the eastern end of the Set6 Inland 

1 Quoted by McClain and Osamu, 1999: 3. 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // /OBP.0281.03 

70 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Sea, the man-made islands and docks that make up the modern Hanshin 
port and the extensive metropolis of Osaka and Kobe (see, for example, 
Kawanabe et al., 2012). Neither does the chapter trace the history of 
Japanese naval ships and their bases (currently, the main ports of the 
Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force are at Yokosuka—32 km south of 
Yokohama, and at Kure—24 km south-south west of Hiroshima). 

There are studies published in English on Osaka ports that contain 
information not covered in this chapter. The evolution of the ports of 
Naniwa, Watanabe, Ishiyama Honganji, Sakai and Osaka, in relation to 
their political and their functional role from the 5th century, is admirably 
summarised in English by Wakita (1999) and Sakaehara (2009). Pearson 
(2016) documents, in detail, the archeological evidence on the ancient 
port at Naniwa. Asao (et al., 1999) give a detailed history of Sakai, and 
Yamasaki (et al., 2010) describe the history of nearby Kobe (Owara no 
tsu/Hyogo). However, the focus here is more on port governance and 
the organisation of domestic shipping. 

The chapter is organised in the following way, first with some general 
background information on the essential geographical features of Osaka 
Bay, noting the very early geomorphological processes that have altered 
river estuaries. The second section outlines ports and shipping from 
archaic times. The third section describes Osaka ports in the ancient 
period. This is followed by an explanation of the administration of 
ports in the Edo period when the merchant class organised ports and 
shipping. Sections follow on the beginning of the Meiji era—when 
Western models of port administration—were introduced through to 
the present day with the recent Japanese National Government policy 
of creating the Hanshin super-container port (Osaka and Kobe Ports). 
The final section considers the policy of land reclamation because this 
has facilitated port infrastructure development as well as post-war 

The Geography of Osaka Bay 

During the time of human occupation in Japan geomorphological 
processes have transformed the delta area of the Yamato and Yodo 
Rivers from a marine bay (Osaka Bay) to a fresh-water lagoon and 
finally to dry land (Pearson, 2016: 8-9 and Figure 2.2). Similar processes 
would have modified river estuaries in other parts of Japan. The greatest 

3. Ports and Shipping 71 

transformations to the natural coastline have been made by man with 
the land reclamation programs dating from Ed6 times but intensifying 
with port developments in the latter part of the 20th century and early 
21st century. 

The waterway systems southwards of Lake Biwa (Kawanabe et al., 
2012) provided natural arteries for ancient domestic trade, with links to 
international trade routes through Osaka Bay (formerly Naniwa Bay). 
The Seto Inland Sea allows ships to pass on their journeys to and from 
China and Korea through relatively sheltered waters compared with the 
more exposed ocean route via the Kii Strait south of Shikoka Island. 

The Use of the Sea in Archaic Times 

Water transport has been of great importance from ancient times with 
the discovery of primitive dugout canoes and other fishing artifacts at 
various archeological sites confirming a strong association with the sea 
from late Palaeothic and Jomon times (10,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.) onwards. 
This technology allowed coastal settlements to forage further afield 
rather than the restricted hinterland of travel on foot (Hudson, 2017: 
108). In this same period, evidence from ceramic fragments points to 
long-distance maritime trade between Kyishi and both the Rytikis and 
the Korean peninsula (Hudson, 2017: 110). 

In the Palaeothic period there is evidence of obsidian found on 
Honsht having been transported by sea from the off-shore volcanic 
island of Kozushima (Hudson, 2017:106)—about 56 km south of the 
Honshii mainland at Shimoda. A dugout canoe made from the muku 
tree (aphanante aspera) discovered in Chiba prefecture, was measured 
at 7.45 metres in length and was dated around 3,000 B.C. (Naumann, 
2000: 50-51). Archeological findings of dugout canoes from the late and 
final Jomon periods indicate coastal travel, deep-sea fishing and trade, 
as obsidian was found only on islands off the coast of Honshu (and in 

However, as Hudson (2017:111) notes there is “no direct information 
regarding social measures aimed at the governance of the sea.” It is 
certain that the chiefdoms and early states of western Japan in the Yayoi 
and Kofun periods used bronze mirrors and glass beads from the south 
of the Korean peninsula (the Gaya Confederacy before it was invaded 
by Silla in 562) and mainland China as symbols of political power. 

72 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

There are three Shinto shrine complexes in northern Kytishi 
dedicated to female sea-deities. Hetsumiya, located at the coastal town 
of Genkai, Fukuoka, is dedicated to the deity Ichiki-shima-hime. The 
other two temples are in the Genkai Sea: Nakatsumiya on the island of 
Oshima dedicated to the deity Taki-tsu-hime; and Oki-tsu-miya on the 
island of Okinoshima and dedicated to Tagori-hime. Between the 4th and 
the 9th centuries these shrines were located at the points of embarkation 
and disembarkation for the official diplomatic missions between Japan 
and Silla (Korea) and China (Kodansha, 1993: 1013; Nelson, 2014). 

The Yamato Kingdom gained access to these important sea routes 
by defeating the Iwai Rebellion in present day Fukuoka Prefecture 
(Hudson, 2017: 112). From the Kofun period onwards, Dazaifu was 
an important military centre for the Yamato period from whence 
armies were dispatched to defend its Korean territory (the Kingdom 
of Mimana). A branch of the Yamato Court was established in Dazaifu 
from 663 (Heritage of Japan, 2020). 

In 665, Japan lost 400 battle ships to a joint T’ang and Silla force at 
the mouth of the Kum (Geum) River that empties into the Yellow Sea. 
Later, Chinese Song dynasty (960-1279) ships came to Dazaifu and 
traded with representatives of various temples and shrines and their 
attached estates. Little trade was carried out by the central government 
of Japan. From the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 12th 
century the most important centre for trade was Dazaifu that had an 
organisation especially established for foreign trade. 

Administration of Ancient Osaka Ports 

In ancient times, powerful clans ruling as an institution would have 
controlled maritime ports. It is uncertain when Japanese ships first 
explored beyond their shores, nor are there descriptions of the seaports 
from where they embarked, but the first written evidence of a ‘Japanese’ 
envoy visiting China (Schottenhammer, 2013) is recorded in the Hou 
Hanshu (57 A.D.) which stated that the Wa (f%) brought tribute to the 
Chinese Court (textiles, sapan wood, bows and arrows, slaves and white 
pearls). In return, the Chinese Court sent silk fabrics, gold objects, bronze 
mirrors, pearls, lead and cinnabar. From the 1st century A.D., Chinese 
records (wei zhi) mention the land of Wa composed of a number of 

3. Ports and Shipping 73 

states that joined a league in around 180 A.D. under the headship of 
Himiko, Queen of Yamatai, and who sent an envoy to the State of Wei 
(2&, 220-265) in 239 A.D. 

Brown (1993) describes the institutional arrangements under the 
Yamato King control system (during the 5th century) as one where 
chiefs of clan (uji) dominated the politics of ancient Japan. The 
system would have evolved from previous eras (see McClain and 
Wakita, 1999: 1-4). The clan system, with family allegiances, would 
have exercised hierarchical control of the workforce of farmers and 
fishermen. It can be speculated, with a high degree of plausibility, 
that, from the earliest times, port operations would have been handled, 
under supervision, by those who specialised in navigating the river 
and coastal waters, who knew where to land boats and who acted as 
the wharfinger keeping account of the comings and goings of produce 
and other goods. Domestic and international exchange would have 
been facilitated through a peasant and slave labour force under the 
institutional control of the clan chief. 

Twice the Wei rulers, Mingdi (reigned 227-239) and Shaodi (reigned 
240-253), sent embassies to Japan (238 and 247) and four Japanese 
embassies were dispatched to Wei. An international port at Suminoe 
(Suminoe no tsu, 447), was located just to the south of the modern 
Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine (containing the Gods of Seafarers) on the 
Yamato River. Sumiyoshi port is as old as Naniwa, being important from 
the 5th century onwards. The port had important state-related functions. 
This is where the Japanese envoys and military flotilla assembled before 
departure. From Sumiyoshi port the direct overland route to Asuka was 
shorter than from other ports. 

A more centralised institution of the Emperor’s Court emerged 
over time (Asuka Enlightenment) and made extensive use of Chinese 
techniques for expanding state power (Mitsusada with Brown, 1993). 
Japan adopted not only art and culture from China but, more or less, its 
complete administrative system. The T’ang Dynasty government set up 
the Shi Bo Si (THAA)—its Oceangoing and Marketing Department—in 
many coastal ports for the administration of foreign economy-related 
affairs by sea, including the export of silk products to Japan (Chaffee, 
2010). Therefore, it is most certain that equivalent port-related functions 
were duplicated in Japan. Ruling elites (acting ‘on behalf’ of the authority 

74 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

of the Emperor) introduced and reinforced the basic regulations on 
coastal and international shipping. Sets of maritime regulations (kaisen 
shikimoku or kaisen taiho) reveal information about seafaring practices in 
the medieval period. 

The dates of maritime regulations that include articles on coastal 
trade ships, riverboats and port regulations are disputed because of 
their frequent recopying from documents dated 1223 (Damian, 2014: 
2). Though few trade-related documents from the medieval period 
have survived the centuries, one set of port records provides much 
information about coastal shipping. The Records of Incoming Ships at 
the Hydgo Northern Checkpoint (hydgo kitaseki irifune nécho) record 
data for over 1900 vessels that passed through the checkpoint at Hyégo 
(today part of Kobe City), in 1445 and the first two months of 1446 
(Hayashiya, 1981). Each dated entry notes the port of registry of the 
ship, the type and volume of cargoes carried, such as salt and ceramics 
(Damian, 2014), the taxes levied on the items and dates collected, the 
name of the ship’s captain and the name of the warehouse manager 
that handled the incoming items. The records show the flow of goods 
from the provinces to Hyogo—gateway to the central court region of 

The Role of Temples and Shipping Agents 

As early as the 7th century, Zen Buddhism was introduced into 
Japan from China. Although it was being taught by the 8th and 9th 
centuries, as a foreign religion, it failed to prosper until the early 
Kamakura period (1185-1333), when the Japanese nobility adopted 
it. The temples as organisations were a consumer of vast amounts 
of building materials, agricultural produce and soon developed 
expansive trading networks. 

In addition, shipping organisations that had appeared earlier, and 
continued to develop during the Kamakura period, were the agents 
who took rice and other products of the shden estates on consignment 
for distribution to markets (toimaru) and the co-operative guilds (za) 
that provided favourable reciprocal trade advantages and reduced 
competition (Pearson, 2016: 97). 

3. Ports and Shipping 75 

Osaka Ports During the Medieval Period 

The key towns, shrines and early ports of Osaka Bay were Naniwa 
no Tsu, Sakai, Owada no Tomari (Hy6go), Watanabe and Ishiyama 
Honganji. The characteristics of their governance is described ranging 
from Naniwa no Tsu as an Imperial port until its decline, Sakai as a 
port administered by town merchants and Ishiyama Honganji run by a 
Buddhist sect with extensive regional trading networks. 

Naniwa no Tsu 

By the time that a port (Naniwa no tsu or Naniwazu, 34:82) was 
established at Naniwa, a complex administrative system was in place. 
Sakaehara (2009: 4-7) traces the origins of a port at Naniwa (some time 
in the late 5th century in the reign of Emperor Nintoku) to the building 
of Naniwa no Horie—a canal cut through the Uemachi Tablelands 
that acted both as a flood control barrier and a shortened route to 
the ocean from inland settlements via the Yodo and Yamato Rivers. 
Sakaehara (2009) notes the construction—near to the probable location 
of the port—of large storehouses with a floor area of some 82-98 square 
metres—probably to keep war supplies because the Wa’s traditional ally 
on the Korean peninsula, Paekche, was being invaded by the northern 
state of Koguryo. With the fall of Paekche, new immigrants, including 
the Paekche royal clan, played an important role in the technological 
advancement of Japan. 

Naniwa became an important seat of government and international 
trading centre carrying Japanese envoys to China during the T’ang 
Dynasty and where military flotillas were assembled. Ocean-going 
ships with crews of about 50 people could be pulled up on the beaches 
that were protected by rock berms. Seagoing ships carrying cargoes 
weighing up to 20 to 30 koku? (roughly 3,600 to 5,400 kg) docked in the 
area of the Naniwa where the cargoes were transferred to riverboats of 
9 metres in length (Pearson, 2016: 55). A line of temples and manors of 

2. Koku (from the Ed6 era) is an important standard volumetric measurement of milled 
rice equal to 180.4 litres (enough to feed one adult for a year). Tax assessments, 
stipends to samurai and the wealth of daimyo were calculated in koku (Kodansha, 
1993: 816). 

76 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

temples controlled the transfer point between ships on the Inland Sea 
and riverboats. Both private and state trade was shipped through the 
Horie Canal. 

Diplomatic missions to China from the 5th to the 8th century departed 
from Naniwa. These ships typically carried 150 people and they travelled 
in convoys of two to four ships, occasionally more (Pearson, 2016: 55). 
McClain and Wakita (1999: 3) attribute the ability for the Yamato lineage 
to extend its boundaries of dominance in central Japan to the convenient 
transport of soldiers and goods through Naniwa. In 645, Emperor 
K6otoku built his palace, Naniwa-no-nagara-no-toyosaki-no-miya (##:% 
iS ), in Osaka, making this area the capital (Naniwa-ky6). 

By the time of Emperor Tenmu (reigned 672-686) the city measured 
about 3 km by 4 km in extent, with a walled government compound, 
some two hundred blocks for the aristocrat residents, and shops and 
homes for merchants, artisans and service workers (McClain and 
Wakita, 1999: 5). Government facilities for diplomatic functions, and 
residences for visiting diplomats, were constructed (Sakaehara, 2009: 
7-8). The capital was short-lived, before moving inland to Heijo-kyo. 
Naniwa continued as a port of political, military, economic and transport 
importance serving the new inland capitals of various Emperors with 
palaces located in Nara and Kyoto. 

The domestic port function of Naniwa is further clarified when the 
system of administrative laws (ritsuryd), issued from the capital Heijo- 
kyo, is explained. With the consolidation of the taxation system in the 
8th century, taxes from all parts of western Japan were shipped by sea to 
Naniwa before being transshipped along the river systems to the capital. 
These taxes were special products from different regions (ché), different 
products paid in lieu of labour tax (yO) and the fixed amount of rice 
supplied as a ration to different offices each year. Many of the nobles, 
officials and clergy who were based in the capital also owned estates 
in parts of western Japan, and around Naniwa, and tributes from these 
estates were also assembled in Naniwa. 

Naniwa lost its political and diplomatic importance as a port when 
Heijo-ky6 and its subordinate town of Naniwa-kyo were integrated into 
a new capital at Nagaoka-ky6 in 784. Despite its decline, a port close to 
the site continued to function but other nearby communities emerged 
as important centres of commerce, trade and religion during the Heian 

3. Ports and Shipping 77 

(794-1185) and the Kamakura (1185-1333) periods (McClain and 
Wakita, 1999: 6). 

In 785, a new canal connecting the Mikuni River (present-day 
Kanzaki River) and the Yodo River allowed ships from the Seto 
Inland Sea to by-pass Naniwa Port and dock either at Nagaoka-ky6, 
Yamazaki no tsu or Yodo tsu. Although considerably downgraded in 
its significance, trade continued at Naniwa because it is known, for 
example, that a merchant, Bunya no Miyatamaro (died 843 but date 
uncertain), amassed a fortune trading with Silla (Korea) during the 
mid-9th century (Sakaehara, 2009: 9). As pointed out by Wakita (1999: 
25), the shift in the centre of economic gravity did not leave the Uemachi 
Plateau a “desolate wilderness” because people remained in the locality 
and continued to make a living from river transport or shipping. 


One of the best examples of a port administered by the merchant class is 
that of Sakai, located on the head of the Seto Inland Sea, a few kilometres 
south of Suminoe no tsu, and close to the boundaries of the provinces 
of Izumi, Kawachi and Settsu (Asao et al., 1999). In the 14th century, the 
area was an Imperial manor estate (shden) producing salt for sale, but 
then became the base for fishing vessels supplying the Kasuga Shrine 
near Nara (Sansom, 1961: 189). The convenience of its location formed 
the base for the movement of army supplies during the civil conflict of 
1337 to 1392 between the Southern and the Northern Courts. 

During the next civil conflict, the Onin no Ran (1467-1477), shipping 
movements in the Setd Inland Sea became increasingly dangerous and 
trade shifted to the port of Sakai. The town of Sakai was surrounded by 
a moat and prospered through its administration by merchants (naya- 
shu or kaigo-shu). Merchants thrived on the trade with the Ming dynasty 
(1368-1644) established in 1401 by the third Muromachi Shogun, 
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, largely because ships utilised the Kii Channel then 
sailed to southern Kytsht thereby avoiding piracy in the Seto Inland 
Sea (Osaka Toshi Kogaku Center, 1999: 18). However, ships were subject 
to more exposed weather and more dangerous sailing conditions. 

After the civil wars, the town of Sakai was rebuilt in the early 15th 
century and granted special privileges by the Muromachi bakufu for 

78 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

domestic and international trade. Japanese maritime trade grew rapidly 
in the 14th and early 15th centuries, and the enterprise of merchants, 
through licensed trade with China, brought great profit to the 
merchants and their daimyo protectors, and, sometimes, their sponsors. 
For example, the reported gross profit of sales in China was a factor 
of three based on a 1493 voyage out of Sakai (Sansom, 1961: 271). In 
1548, both sides terminated trade missions (Sansom, 1961: 266) being 
replaced by unlicensed trade, especially by Japanese pirates (although 
the ships contained crews that were predominantly Chinese nationals). 

After about 1500, Sakai replaced Hy6go (under the direct control 
of the Muromachi bakufu) as the usual port of departure, for political 
and security reasons documented by Sansom (1961: 270-272). Sakai 
merchants organised and financed most of the voyages originating in 
the Home Counties. Sakai merchants also traded in the Seto Inland Sea 
by paying protection money to the Murakami “pirates” and facilitating 
trade for the Honganji Temple. 

Owada no Tomari (Hydgo) 

During the Nara period (710-784), the port of Kobe, known then as 
Owada no Tomari, was already a major port of trade with China and 
other foreign countries. For a short time, the capital of Japan was moved 
from Ky6dto to Kobe’s Fukuhara district. At the same time, Hyogo became 
a centre of military activity. Battles between the Heike and Genji clans 
occurred there, including the decisive Battle of Ichi no Tani in 1184.° In 
later years, Hydgo’s port played an important role as a maritime centre 
for both the Seto Inland Sea and the Sea of Japan. It was also a rest station 
along the Saigoku Highway—a major highway that went from Kyoto to 
western Japan (Kobe Trade Information Office, 

3. A decisive battle during the Gempei War fought at the Taira defensive position to 
the west of Kobe. The Taira clan (a strength of about 5,000 troops) were defeated 
by Minamoto no Yoshisune and Minamoto no Nororiyori (a strength of about 3,000 

3. Ports and Shipping 79 

Watanabe no Tsu 

At the beginning of the 10th century an Imperial estate called Oe no 
Mikuriya was established in the provinces of Settsu and Kawachi. 
Watanabe no tsu, located on the south bank of the Yodo River, was 
a relay point to transport foods to the Emperor in Heijo-ky6. Court 
nobility sailed to Watanabe-no-tsu then travelled on foot southwards to 
make pilgrimages to Shitennoji Temple, to the 117 temples on Koyasan 
(now Wakayama Prefecture), or further, across the mountainous Kii 
Peninsula to the Kumano shrines (now Mie Prefecture). 

The port also functioned as an auxiliary port for coastal shipping in 
the Seto Inland Sea in the 11th century. Its administration was atypical 
because the jité managers of the Imperial estate (shden), the Watanabe 
clan, with a powerful navy, were appointed chief of police (kebiishi) and 
exercised marine police authority in the port and river estuaries. The 
port underwent a major transformation in late Heian and Kamakura 
periods evolving from a warehousing and transshipment centre to 
lumberyards and storehouses belonging to religious organisations and 
rich families. 

Commencing in 1196, it was Todaiji’s Abbot, Shunjo Chogen, 
who developed a better port, protected by stone levees and piers, to 
accommodate oceangoing vessels (Wakita, 1999: 29). Its main function 
was for the transport of building materials for the temples and hence it 
was a private port. However, it did charge a small fee for any ship docking 
there—especially grain ships. Wakita (1999: 33) notes the paucity of 
historical documentation but speculates that local residents took over 
the self-governing organisation of Watanabe port—as occurred at Sakai 
and Tenndji. 

Ishiyama Honganji 

From 1533 to 1580, the temple and town located at the estuary of the 
rivers Yodo and Yamato was the origins of the modern city of Osaka. 
It was the headquarters of a religious and secular organisation of the 
Honganji—a major branch of the Buddhist True Pure Land Sect (Jodo 
shinshu). The temple was founded in 1496 but grew into a large town 
within the temple complex all surrounded by moats and fortified walls 

80 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

(Kodansha, 1993: 633). Ishiyama Honganji thus became a centre of 
religion and commerce that stretched across the province as a vast power 
structure described in the Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Kodansha, 
1993: 633) as a “religious monarchy”. 

The temple’s 10-year war with Oda Nobunaga was lost: when the 
temple surrendered in 1580 it was burnt on the orders of the rennyo 
(abbot). Recognising its strategic location, Toyotomi Hideyoshi built 
Osaka Castle (that stands today as a renovated monument) on the same 
site and he moved into this fortress in 1584. He restored Osaka’s central 
place in Japanese trading affairs, as well as building up his maritime 
power and fortune, initially in association with pirate trade before 
eradicating piracy, as explained earlier in Chapter 2, and by the Japan 
Heritage Portal Hub (2019). 

Arnason (2010) describes in detail the rise of this region of Japan 
that became a “secondary state” (institution). After Toyotomi Hideyoshi 
gained hegemony and built his base in Osaka in 1583, the Osaka port 
(still a river port) became a renewed centre of international and domestic 
trade. Many of the canals based on the river system were excavated during 
his reign and that of his son. On Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s death, his son, 
Toyotomi Hideyori, became daimyo of a large and prosperous domain 
centred on Osaka Castle. However, in 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu found 
a pretext to denounce Toyotomi Hideyori (1593-1615) for subversive 
actions, defeating him in field battles. The castle finally surrendered in 
June 1615 when the domain was transferred into Tokugawa control. This 
is an important point when port developments during the Ed6 period, 
especially those at Osaka, are discussed below. 

Port Administration in the Edo Era 

Osaka became a region under the direct control of the Tokugawa 
Shdgunate in 1619. The extraordinary role of Osaka as a nerve centre 
of much trade and of financial support to the Shogunate explains the 
importance of the bugydsho (4847Fit) of Osaka, and also why the bugyd 
was either consulted, or, on occasions, directed by the Edo machi 
bugyd (B]454T) acting for the Shdgunate. Edo’s officials seem to have 
been passive in documenting the inflow of goods to Edo and were often 
content to rely on detail from Nagasaki (Dejima for foreign trade) or 
Osaka, where the bugydsho acted as a powerful agent of the Shogunate. 

3. Ports and Shipping 81 

Cullen (2010) explains that the key institution of coastal trade inJapan 
during the Edo era reflected three circumstances: the central trading 
importance of Osaka; the rising consumer market of Ed6; and the scale 
of trade in sensitive commodities between these two dominant ports. 
The bugyd of Osaka was a central figure, acting on instructions from 
the Tokugawa bakufu. Administration of a port was divided between the 
national institution of the raja (%F)—in effect a cabinet of the bakufu— 
and the kanjosho (#)7£ FT), or Finance Office, and the local machi bugyéd 
(magistrate of towns). Coastal trade was primarily a concern of the 
machi bugyosho: there is little evidence that kanjosho, roju or the Shogun, 
intervened directly in port affairs (Cullen, 2009: 187). Under the machi 
bugyd, the workhorses were the machi doshiyori (HJ“-2) who were the 
wholesalers (ton’ya, fi) or guilds that represented them. 

The plans for the excavations of canals in Osaka and the inspection 
of commodities, were administrated by the machi bugyo. However, most 
of the infrastructure of Osaka built between the late 16th and the 17th 
centuries—flood control on the major rivers, land reclamation, urban 
canals, main roads as urban thoroughfares and port development—were 
constructed by wealthy citizens of Osaka and not by the government. 
Under the permission of the bakufu, townspeople constructed canals in 
the marshes including Dotombori that was completed in 1615 by the 
merchant Doton Nariyasu (Yamamukai, 2004: 12). 

For example, Suminokura Ry6i (1554-1614) excavated several canals 
in Osaka including the Hozugawa and the Takasegawa to facilitate 
economy activities. Sand and soil excavated from these constructions 
were used in town creation (Nagai, 2004: 5)—a town area that was 
approximately 5km by 5km. They also built numerous bridges to the 
extent the town was called Naniwa Happyakuya-bashi (Naniwa’s 808 
bridges).4 Of the estimated 200 bridges in this area only 6 per cent 
were built by the bakufu (Matsumura, 2004: 16). Wealthy merchants 
and citizens living along the streets of individual bridges built and 
maintained the vast majority of these bridges. 

The bakufu asked Kawamura Zuiken (1617-1699) to plan the secure 
transport of commodities to Ed6 and developed coastal shipping routes 
in 1671 and 1672. By the 17th century ships plying the coastal trades 
(hokkokubune) had a capacity of 1,000 koku (98 gross tons). The Osaka 

4 In Japanese, “808” is a metaphor for a very large number. 

82. A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

port was one of main ports of call on these routes. The construction of 
Edo as the new capital required large quantities of timber and stone 
from the provinces that stimulated coastal shipping. 

Itami (see Chapter 2) was one of twelve towns that formed Settsu’s 
sake brewing belt. From breweries outside the castle at Itami, an array 
of brands and labels in casks were exported to suppliers active in Edo 
(kudari-zake). Casks were transported first by horse to a point on the 
Kanzaki River about 8 km away, transshipped by boat to the port of 
Denbo, and finally loaded onto barrel barges (taru kaisen) bound for 
Edo. In the 1730s, Itami’s sake exports bound for Edo exceeded 180,000 
casks valued at about 64,800 koku, and demand pushed this amount 
progressively higher (Brecher, 2010: 27). The shipping route improved in 
1784 when the Itami brewers finally received permission from the bakufu 
to use boats on the Ina River, allowing door-to-door water transport that 
delivered sake into Edo within a week, or sometimes less. 

Together with improved coastal shipping, developments of transport 
infrastructure attracted commodity markets, such as the Zakoba fish 
market, the Tenma fresh food market and the Dojima rice market, 
along the rivers and canals that brought prosperity to the Osaka 
region. Organised in 1694, the Osaka 24-wholesale group (nijuushi kumi 
ton’ya) and the 10-wholesale group (to kumi ton’ya) operated a virtual 
monopoly transport system of cargo ships (higaki kaisen) between 
Osaka and Ed6. The economic rise of the merchants, at the expense of 
the daimyos and their samurai retainers, was further reinforced because 
these organisations also operated as moneylenders and financiers. 

Many coastal areas of Japan also grew over the course of the 18th 
and into the 19th centuries. They became more prosperous and more 
interconnected, and their locally active ports transformed into more 
prominent regional ports. For example, the port of Shimoda on the Izu 
peninsula on the island of Honsht: (nowadays Shizuoka Prefecture) 
developed as it acted as a security point for the bakufu, where all ships 
bound for Ed6 were required to dock there for inspection up to 1721. 
The layout of these coastal ports in the Edo is typified by the port of 
Takamatsu on the northern part of Shikoku Island (Figure 1). The castle 
is protected by a moat. Other canals provide safe haven for ships. 

3. Ports and Shipping 83 

Figure 1. Screen Painting of Takamatsu Castle and its Port During the Edo Period. 

Source: Photograph by author in Kagawa Museum, Takamatsu, Shikoka, Japan. 

Port Administration in the Modern Monarchy Era 

From the mid-19th century, Japan realised the need for trade in vital raw 
materials, such as oil, iron ore, and industrial products, and for a strong 
navy for defence. Phipps (2015) has written a book on the economic 
history of the commercial expansion of ports from 1858 until the early 
Meiji era by tracing maritime networks of exchange, transport, and 
information. Construction, or purchase, of ocean-going ships was given 
fresh emphasis in Japan. At the end of the 19th century, government 
subsidies to shipbuilders encouraged the industry, but it was only the 
pressures of the First World War that gave Japanese shipping companies 
the lion’s share of Japanese foreign trade. 

The Meiji government’s policy of modernisation under a centralised 
government was designed to help Japan catch up with advanced 
Western nations. Japan’s ports and harbours matured under the Meiji 
government’s policy of industrial promotion, national wealth and 
military strength. Ports, harbours, railways, roads and other types of 
economic infrastructure were established at this time. The modernisation 
of the Japanese economy can be aptly illustrated with the case of Kobe 
Port. In the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Trade and Amity (1858) Hyogo was 
declared a designated open port under the treaty. 

84 — A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Under a Meiji government policy enacted in 1873, ports were deemed 
“government-owned structures”, which brought them under national 
government jurisdiction (Japan, Ministry of Land Infrastructure and 
Transport,n.d.). These facilities were ranked (Class One, Twoand Three), 
and the government was directly responsible for the improvement of 
the five major Class One ports (including Osaka and Kobe) which were 
central to the country’s international trade. The port of Osaka opened to 
foreign trade on 15 July 1868 but soon found it necessary to construct a 
new port because large vessels could not navigate along the rivers due 
to accumulation of silt. 

Construction started at Tempozan, Osaka, in 1897 under a plan of a 
Dutch engineer, De Rijke,” with a budget as equivalent of 20 times the 
city’s annual budget. Tempozan wharf opened in 1922 and work on the 
port was finally finished in 1929. Further reconstruction and renovation 
work started in 1935 with the Central Pier being completed in 1944. 
Allied bombing severely damaged the port facilities in 1945 and they 
were further damaged as a result of the 1946 Showa Nankai earthquake 
of the 21 December 1945. 

Class two and three ports were either under the sole jurisdiction of 
local governments or they were managed by prefecture and municipal 
governments. At that time, however, the Japanese constitution did 
not provide for autonomous local government, and the responsibility 
for these ports was in the hands of the prefecture governor, who was 
appointed by the national government. Local government merely served 
as the management body, bearing the expenses involved in managing 
the ports and harbours, while the administration of these facilities was 
actually directed by the national government. 

At the end of the 19th century, a new institution—the Port 
Customhouse—was placed under the direct jurisdiction of the Japan 
Ministry of Finance. Around 1897, all laws and regulations concerning 
customs administration, particularly the Customs Law and the Customs 
Tariff Law, were enacted to reflect the provisions of the new treaties 
imposed on the country by foreign powers. At the same time, a new 
Customs organisational chart was set up, consisting of a secretariat, 
one division and six sections. The staff numbered a total of 1,240. 

5 Kamibayashi (2009) documents the civil engineering works in Japan, including the 
flood control of the Yodogawa, by Johannis de Rijke (1842-1913) and others. 

3. Ports and Shipping 85 

This virtually laid the foundation of the present Japan Customs 
Administration (Japan, Department of Customs, 2021). 

In 1924, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Kato Takaaki (1860-1926) 
implemented administrative reorganisation by integrating the 
whole responsibility of port and harbour administration into the 
Customs Department. Under an Imperial ordinance, the local harbour 
departments, which had previously been under the jurisdiction of the 
Ministry of Home Affairs, were all transferred to Customs. Japan’s 
external trade declined with the intensification of military activities. 
Shipping was brought under state control to reinforce military transport 
capacity and customhouses were closed. The Marine Transportation 
Bureau assumed authority for their personnel and facilities. 

Naval ship building grew rapidly at the same time, and, by 1940, 
Japan had one of the largest and most powerful navies ever built in the 
world, totalling 15 battleships and battlecruisers, 7 aircraft carriers, 66 
cruisers, 164 destroyers and 66 submarines. Following Japan’s surrender 
in the Second World War, and in accordance with the “Memorandum on 
the Japan Customs System” issued in 1946 by the General Headquarters 
of the Allied Forces, the Ministry of Finance again took the responsibility 
for all Customs matters. 

Port Administration in the Modern Democratic Era 

After the Second World War, the Port and Harbor Act (1950) dramatically 
shifted port administration from the central government to local 
governments. American General Headquarters, which essentially 
controlled Japan at that time, ordered the Japanese Government to 
draw up a Port Act that would force local governments to assume port 
management by adopting the then current U.S.A. port authority system. 

Hayashi and Seta (2012) describe the conflict between the central 
government (who wanted to remain in a position of power and 
influence) and the big five port cities including Kobe and Yokohama 
who kept asking for priority treatment. Shibata (2008) notes that the 
major ports were already being developed by local government funds. 
In fact, the Port and Harbor Act defines a “port management body” as 
the Port Authority or a local public entity. Major port cities, including 
the city of Osaka (on 1 July 1952) have entitled themselves to a port 
management body under the Osaka Municipal Government. (Almost 

86 —_A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

all other ports are managed by prefecture governments; unions manage 
only a few ports.) 

For example, there are four port areas on Osaka Bay, and they 
are administrated by each local government: Osaka Port by the City; 
Sakai Senboku Port by Osaka Prefecture; Kobe Port by the Kobe City; 
and Amagasaki-Nishinomiya-Ashiya Port by Hyogo Prefecture. 
This regional decentralisation of port administration has resulted in 
competitive bidding by governments to develop ports in every coastal 
region of the country some of which are scarcely viable economically. 
Terada (2012) explains this proliferation of ports in considerable detail. 

With the increasing container shipping in global maritime markets 
since the 1960s, the Ministry of Transport planned to institute a public 
corporation that would develop and manage international container 
terminals in Kobe Port, Yokohama port and Nagoya port. The first two 
named cities, and the Nagoya Port Association—as port management 
bodies—however, repelled the plan, as the central government intended 
the corporations to take over port administration. Furthermore, the 
Ministry of Finance objected to the plan on financial grounds. After the 
Ministry of Transport lobbied the ruling party, the plan finally ended up 
as the International Container Terminal Corporation Act in August 1967— 
effectively establishing two Port Development Authorities, 9} 129828 
(PDA hereinafter) as public corporations: the Keihin PDA financed 
by Tokyo Metropolis and Yokohama City; and the Hanshin Foreign 
Trade Terminal Public Corporation (PDA) by Osaka City and Kobe City. 

The national government and private companies also invested into 
these PDAs. Since the PDAs took responsibilities not only in developing, 
but also managing, international container terminals, it led to a dualised 
administration in Osaka port. For the construction of many liner berths 
and container terminals, the “Hanshin and Keihin Port Authority” was 
founded by the investment of the central government in 1967. But, in 
1982, the Authority was dissolved, and assets were transferred to public 
corporations established by local governments. Hanshin PDA was 
replaced by Kobe PMC and Osaka PMC as affiliated organisations of 
the ports. 

The trade in the container shipping industry declined after the 
Oil Shocks of 1973 and the over-development and surplus capacity of 
container wharves became a significant issue in Japan. Two PDAs were 
nominated for abolishment in the Administration Reform Commission. 

3. Ports and Shipping 87 

The Cabinet made a decision in December 1977 to abolish the PDAs. 
On this issue of abolishing PDAs, conflicts inevitably arose amongst 
institutions of government and organisations: the Ministry of Transport 
appealed the decision with its objections; container-shipping companies, 
who had invested into PDAs, claimed a right to take over the container 
terminals; and the city governments, including Osaka City, welcomed 
the opportunity to take over the functions of PDAs. 

Those conflicts lasted until another political decision was made in 
1980: to replace the PDAs with a new institution of a Port Management 
Corporation, $#5823%t (PMC) in each port without any changes in 
the financial status for private companies. The cities took over the 
container terminals and the PMCs were under the supervision of the 
central government (the Ministry of Transport). After 1985, the national 
government formulated several plans with a basic aim of implementing 
a “Multipolar Pattern Japan” that encouraged local governments to have 
a claim for an international container port. 

The intent of the final plan was to develop 39 new international 
container ports over 15 years (from 1986 to 2000). The number of 
international container ports in Japan increased eleven times from 
6 ports in the 1960s to 66 ports in 2007. This National Ports Policy 
(Japan, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2009) 
eventually forced port management bodies into domestic competition 
for attracting shipping liners. At the same time, other Asian ports, such 
as Singapore, Hong Kong and Pusan, introduced their own container 
services. Falling behind those countries, the Japanese government 
reversed its policy so as to centralise port investment and the container 
freight: it first designated the Hanshin port (Osaka Port and Kobe Port) 
as one of three “super hub ports” in 2004 and later designated them as 
one of two “strategic international container ports” in 2010. 

The Hanshin Ports are allowed to apply for preferential funds from 
the national government. In accordance with those centralisation 
policies, the national government has promoted the privatisation of 
PMCs in order “to make them more economically efficient operations 
and to respond to customers’ need”. The Japan Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (2019), concluded that existing 
port administrations had difficulties in responding to both shipping 
liners’ and shippers’ requests because they were public-sector 
institutions. The Ministry suggested that a private company, such as 

88 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

a limited company, is a superior model for administrating a container 
port. Under the consideration of nominating a strategic international 
container port, the national government determined the feasibility of 
efficient management from the private sector as one of the criteria. 

Osaka Port subsequently privatised its PMC to the Osaka Port 
Corporation with 100 per cent capital from the City of Osaka in 2010 
(Kawasaki et al., 2020). As a result, Osaka Port has three elements in 
its container port administration: the national government; the local 
government of Osaka City; and the Osaka Port Corporation. In addition 
to its old container terminal developed and managed by the Osaka City 
or PDA/PMC, a “strategic international container port” with a container 
pier has been developed: the wharf-land is owned by local government 
and other equipment, such as cranes, by Osaka Port Corporation. In 
addition, for the Hanshin Port, the Kobe—Osaka International Port 
Corporation was launched by the national government (34% of capital), 
the City of Kobe (31% of capital), the City of Osaka (31% of capital) and 
city banks (4% of capital). 

As in most countries, Japanese port functions, such as administration, 
piloting, dredging and infrastructure development, are a combination of 
responsibilities shared by both public and private sectors. Public service 
ports are predominantly managed by the government except that certain 
functions, such as dredging, may be shared with private companies. 
The landlord model is common to many ports throughout the world 
where a government corporation administers the port and ‘owns’ the 
surrounding water such as the approach and departure channels; other 
functions are shared or are the responsibility of the private sector. As 
implied by the name of a privatised port, most functions are managed 
by the private sector except for pilotage or the environmental approval 
for marine dredging. 

Land Reclamation 

One of the most extraordinary physical and economic developments in 
Japan, especially in the era after the Pacific War, has been the degree 
of land reclamation that has been undertaken in its oceans and bays 
land-in-japan/). Whilst some of this has been driven by the need for 
container terminals, the planning of such reclamation has included the 

3. Ports and Shipping 89 

integration of other land uses such as commercial, residential, roads and 
recreational. The City of Kobe provides one example of the extent of land 
reclamation in Osaka Bay ( 
port-of-kobe-environmental-measures-in-reclamation-projects/). The 
mining of material from Mount Rokko, and the transportation of spoil 
by slurry pipeline into the bay, is an engineering feat in its own right. 
In addition to port and airport functions, land on the reclaimed new 
islands in the sea were sold to developers as residential, commercial and 
other urban land use. Locally called the “Kobe Business Model”, land 
reclamation has generated income from both land and sea. 

However, one problem of constructing facilities on landfill is the 
liquefactions that occur during major earthquakes. In January 1995 an 
earthquake of a magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre 
on the nearby island of Awaji, devasted the Kobe area causing loss of 
life and major damage to structures (Chung, 1996, Figure 4.5.4, p. 294). 


Migration to the islands of Japan followed land bridges where the 
hunter-gather culture exploited shallow coastal waters for fishing from 
dug-out canoes. As society advanced with the influx of Yayoi people 
from continental Asia local clans formed, along with clan chiefs who 
exercised control over maritime resources. With the birth of the Yamatai 
Kingdom, centralised command over these resources occurred. Suminoe 
and Naniwa ports were institutional artifacts of a succession of the clan 
leaders, Kings of Wa and Emperors using primarily their diplomacy 
with China and Korea for trade in precious and symbolic items of power 
and their domestic movement of taxation rice and other products to the 

Just as Naniwa had supplanted Suminoe as an international 
point of embarkation and disembarkation Naniwa declined with the 
construction of a canal on the Yodo River and the rise of Watanabe—a 
port up-river on Imperial estates (shden) and closer to the capital. Acting 
on the authority of the Emperor, samurai administered this port and 
formed a marine police force. The interpretation of the shifting patterns 
of control of international trade through Japanese ports from 600 to 1868 
is summarised in Table 6, showing the dominant players over time who 
controlled international trade through Japanese ports. 

90 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

From 600 until the tribute trade with the Sui and T’ang was abolished 
in Middle Heian times, the Emperor (institution) and his administration 
exercised tight control. Chinese merchants (organisations) entered this 
national policy vacuum with private international trade. Diplomatic 
trade resumed in the 10th to 13th centuries but it was now strongly 
controlled by the decentralised institutions of the warlords (in essence 
local government). With the rise of regional warlords and military 
governments from the Kamakura period onwards, in coastal fiefdoms, 
especially to the west of Japan, maritime piracy as an organisation was 
rife and the evidence of strong alliances between pirates as “lords of the 
sea” and the regional warlords (institutions) support one proposition 
of the new institutional economics: the existence of nested institutions. 

Table 6. Dominant Players Controlling International Trade, Japan, from 

Source: Author with assistance from Dr Naoya Akita. 

Period Description Trade Type Dominant Players 
Managing Trade 
Asuka Envoys to Tribute Emperor—powerful 
600-618 Sui 
Nara 618-894 Envoys to Tribute Emperor—powerful 
Middle Heian Tribute trade Private Chinese merchants— 
abolished weak control 
End of Heian Free trade Diplomatic Buke—Decentralised 
(10th—13th but strong control 
Early Chaotic— Private Regional warlords— 
Kamakura rise of early weak control 
wako pirates 
Middle Ming Trade Tribute Shogun—powerful 
Late Ming Tribute Shogun, daimyo, 
Muromachi Trade—late merchants—weak 
wako pirates control 
Azuchi— Nanbanboeki Private Kanpaku—powerful 
Ed6 1603-1868 Regulated National Shogun—powerful 

3. Ports and Shipping 91 

One of the first unifiers of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, grew rich by 
participating in this illegal, international trade, destroyed the trading 
religious monarchy and port at Ishiyama Honganji (organisation) to 
secure a strategic site for the future Osaka Castle. With the unification 
of the country in the Edo period the Tokugawa government regained 
powerful control of international trade that included a policy of not 
paying tribute to Chinese Emperors. 

Table 7 summarises the arguments presented in the earlier, 
substantive part of the chapter by considering the six ancient ports 
in the Osaka region in terms of whether the port administration was 
predominantly through an institution or an organisation, who were the 
dominant parties in port affairs, what were main landmark events that 
led to the functioning of each port and who were the main agents of 
change from one historical period to another. 

Table 7. Early Osaka Ports in History—Institutional and 
Organisational Analysis. 
Source: Author. 

Port (date) Suminoe (< | Naniwa Watanabe | Ishiyama Sakai (16th 
5th C) (5-11th C) | (11-16th Honganji C) 
C) (16th C) 
Administration | Institution | Institution | Institution | Organisation | Organisation 
Dominant Wa clans; Emperor Emperor; Buddhist Merchants 
Party Emperor Daimyo Temple 
Landmark Diplomacy | Diplomacy; | Canal built | Land Trade with 
Events with China | Taxation on Yodo; allocation Ming; Piracy 
Korea Marine to powerful | in Seto 
police elites Inland Sea 
Agents of Decline Canal Canal Destroyed Toyotomi 
Change of tribute building building by warlord | Hideyoshi 
trade with |enhancing | by-passing | Toyotomi control; 
China strategic Naniwa Hideyoshi Transfer of 
location; to inland merchants to 
capital at capital Osaka 

The table illustrates the considerable variation in governance and who 
was responsible for major events. Suminoe, Naniwa and Watanabe were 
the creation of the ruling elites of uji clan chiefs and the Imperial Court 

92. A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

whereas the ports of Ishiyama Honganji and Sakai were administered 
respectively by a religious order and by a merchant association. 

Administration of the port of Sakai can be interpreted as an ‘outlier’ in 
the medieval period in as much that it was run by merchant associations 
not by a regional warlord. Pirates often identified themselves not only 
with looting/pillaging associates but also with groups of wealthy 
merchants, often tied to the egoshu—the rich merchant associations of 
Sakai. During the Onin no Ran (1467-1477) shipping movements, the 
Seto Inland Sea became increasingly dangerous and trade shifted to the 
port of Sakai where it prospered in a town administered by merchants 
(called nayashu and later kaigoshu). They thrived on the trade with Ming 
dynasty China established by the third Muromachi Shogun, Ashikaga 
Yoshimitsu. Port administration changed dramatically when Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi captured the town and transferred merchants to Osaka to 
grow the commercial activities of that embryonic town. 

By 1619, Osaka Castle had been taken by the House of Tokugawa 
and its seaport theoretically was administered with broad oversight 
by the machi bugyd appointed by the Shogunate (national institution) in 
the case of legal disputes arising. Port governance under the Tokugawa 
functioned in a complex way through a system of layered hierarchical 
spheres of authority, each of which retained some degree of autonomy. 
Despite the Osaka Port being located on a Tokugawa domain its 
infrastructure development of river works, canal construction, land 
reclamation, bridge building and warehouses was the result of private 
merchants’ initiatives (organisations). Much of this development was 
paid from merchant profits made from the transport and handling of 
rice (then the national currency) to the new capital of Edo. 

During the Edo period, there were conflicts over international trade 
providing examples of policy reversals. For example, from the Chinese 
trading perspective, merchants and officials were critical of the low 
copper imports from Japan as a result of problems in the procurement 
of export copper from Japanese mines (Schottenhammer, 2008: 339). In 
1701, the Japanese institutional response was to open a copper office 
(doza, $R/KE), which managed the transport of copper to China until 
1712-1713 when it was closed down. 

Foreign intervention and the military force of Western powers were 
factors shattering the institutional stability of the Tokugawa bakufu, 
which had lasted for two and a half centuries. The threat of the U.S. 

3. Ports and Shipping 93 

black ships backing up demands for free international trade and the 
opening of ports Japan forced the Shogun to consult with all daimyos 
as a political precedent and with it came a perceived weakness of 
command that eventually resulted in the downfall of the regime and 
the reinstatement of the institution of Emperor. The Meiji Restoration 
brought in Western-styled democratic institutions with the ownership 
of ports being radically re-organised under the control of the national 
government. After the Second World War, the Port and Harbor Act (1950), 
strongly influenced by U.S. advisors during the Allied occupation of 
Japan, shifted port administration from the central government to local 

In the post-war era the development of ports and their administration 
followed much along Western lines. From approximately 1950-1970, the 
supply of berths for liners increased; from 1970-2000, container terminals 
were constructed, and many urban waterfronts were developed, much 
of them on reclaimed land; and from the 21st century onwards there 
was a move towards port re-organisation and the privatisation of 
container terminals. For example, the Hanshin Ports are allowed to 
apply for preferential funds from the national government. Osaka Port 
subsequently privatised its management to the Osaka Port Corporation 
with 100 per cent capital from the City of Osaka in 2010. ‘Consequently, 
container port administration in Osaka Port comprises three elements: 
the national government; the local government of Osaka City; and the 
Osaka Port Corporation. In addition, in October 2014, the Hanshin 
Port, Kébe-Osaka International Port Corporation was launched by the 
national government (34% of capital), the City of Kobe (31% of capital), 
the City of Osaka (31% of capital) and city banks (4% of capital). 

Successful development policy entails an understanding of the 
dynamics of economic change if the policies pursued are to have the 
desired consequences. The directions of major port developments require 
a broad understanding of the relative roles of national, provincial and 
local governments in port and shipping policy. In Japan, this narrative 
of the history of port administration would suggest a temporal sequence 
highlighting the relative importance of: uji clan chiefs and the Emperor; 
‘provincial government’—the military power of the regional daimyo— 
then private interests (merchants) taking over port construction and 
trade development (taxation rice) during the Ed6 era, albeit under the 
careful scrutiny of a national military government; followed by Meiji 

94 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

government policies of modernisation—much along western lines for 
port administration; and finally national government intervention to 
make Japanese container ports more internationally competitive with 
the Hanshin “super port” model of administration. 


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4. Canals, Rivers and Lakes 

An official is on his mettle 
When riding in a choki' 


The transport of produce by natural water courses of rivers and lakes 
is one of mankind’s oldest means of communication that allowed food 
to be carried over more extended distances from farms to settlements. 
Modifications to the landscape, in the form of ditches, dikes and narrow 
canals, were initially to improve agricultural productivity but had only a 
minor effect of improving transport efficiency. In the case of Japan, over 
the millennia, it has been the constant drive at a local level to improve 
irrigation systems that have had the co-benefits to water transport rather 
than the construction of a national network of canals as occurred in 
many other countries. The essential pattern of Japanese agriculture had, 
at its heart, river irrigation systems (Tabayashi,1987; Kuroishi, 2019). 

A sizable proportion of this chapter deals with canals in rural, 
agricultural regions of the study area. In the overall scheme of things, 
river transport is of minor importance because engineering works were 
directed to flood control and urban water supply. The narrative follows 
the chronology adopted in Chapter 1, where in the archaic period dugout 
canoes were key artefacts of the hunter-gatherer society. The ancient 
period essentially set the pattern of canal and river management for 
millennia with landowners reliant on local knowledge for construction, 
operation and maintenance. In the early medieval to the early modern 
periods, the ancient cultural and political locus of Japan was around 

1 A choki was a small boat used in Edo times to ferry samurai to and from the red- 
light district of Yoshiwara in Edo. The poetic style is senryi—in this case, where the 
chonin (townsfolk) are mocking their social superiors (Kato, 1997: 205). 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // 

100 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Lake Biwa and Kyoto, so various ambitious plans by warlords involved 
large-scale canals linking the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, but 
they were aborted because of the mountainous terrain. 

The canal infrastructure that was constructed in the commercial 
ports of Osaka and Ed6 during the early modern period was entirely the 
resources and capital of the merchant class (Chapter 3). This chapter then 
focuses on an early Meiji period engineering marvel: Lake Biwa Canal 
between Otsu and Kyoto, based on material in Lake Biwa Comprehensive 
Preservation Liaison Coordination Council Office/ Metropolitan Areas 
Development Division, City and Regional Development Bureau, 
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (2003), van Gasteren 
(2001), and Sakuro (1894). Finally, the administration of rivers and canals 
from the Meiji period onwards, especially the contemporary role of the 
Ministry of Infrastructure, Land, Transport and Tourism, is explained 
from a regulatory perspective with the River Act (1896; amended 1964). 
The next section explains why the topography on Honshi island was 
unsuitable for a network of canals for transport purposes. 

The Importance of Topography 

Topography is a significant factor as to whether rivers are navigable 
and whether there is economic value in canal construction. It is worth 
comparing the island of Honshi with a country of similar area. Japan 
and Great Britain offer relevant comparisons: Honshi is an island with 
an area of 227,963 sq. km (roughly 1,300 km long and from 50 to 250 
km wide); England, Scotland and Wales, combined, have a similar area 
of 229,462 sq. km (the distance from Land’s End in England to John 
O’Groats in Scotland is 970 km). In these two countries, as of 1600— 
when Japan's population was approximately 5 million and that of Great 
Britain 4.8 million—rivers, inland waterways and coastal shipping 
provided the main means of transporting bulk materials and the 
occasional passenger. 

There are clear topographical differences between Japan and Great 
Britain. The navigable parts of English river systems are more extensive 
than those in Japan because of the lower mean terrain, whereas most 
of Japan, apart from coastal fringes, is predominantly mountainous or 
hilly. The longest rivers in Great Britain are the Severn (354 km), the 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 101 

Thames (346 km), the Trent (297 km), the Great Ouse (230 km) and 
the Wye (215 km). Japanese rivers rise in the mountainous spines and 
plateaux that run along most of central Honshi and are short and fast 
flowing, especially after alpine snow melt. The latter rivers are less 
suitable for transport purposes. 

The largest drainage basin in Japan is the Tonegawa (Tone River)— 
322 km long with its source at Mount Ominakami in the Echigo 
Mountains and it flows into the Pacific Ocean at Chéshi in Chiba 
Prefecture. Emptying into Ise Bay, the Kisogawa (Kiso River) is 227 km 
long, with headwaters between the Hida and Kiso Mountains. (Details 
on the Shinano, Tone and Yoda Rivers can be found on the homepage 
of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2019)). The Arakawa is 169 
km long with its source in the Kanto Mountains then passing through 
Saitama and Tokyo prefectures with its lower reaches referred to as the 
Sumidagawa (Sumida River) where it enters into Tokyo Bay. Despite the 
dangers of the fast-flowing rivers, currents and shoals, river navigation 
was negotiated by Japanese boatmen whose skills have been honed 
from JOmon times. 

Based on the above conditions, there was no obvious incentive in 
Japan to think about investment in canals to extend the river systems as 
a national waterway network. This investment happened in Britain from 
1741 onwards.’ These transport developments in Britain were driven by 
local projects: with private landowners as entrepreneurs (many initially 
exploiting coal); finance raised locally—primarily from those likely to 
benefit from the canal; consortia of business interests forming joint- 
stock companies; and, importantly, the rise of skilled surveyors and 
engineers (Barker and Savage, 1974: 36-44). As described by Osborne 
(2013: 266-282), it was private capital that invested in British canals 
from the day that the Duke of Bridgewater’s proposal was approved by 
the UK Parliament in March 1759 to build a canal that linked coalmines 
at Worsley to Manchester. In comparison, the Tokugawa bakufu had little 
economic interest in business and therefore canal construction. 

2 Inthe UK, there is a wealth of published material on inland water transport, such as 
Willan (1936); Hadfield (1968) and Barker and Savage (1974). 

102A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Archaic Period 

In JOmon times, the coastlines and rivers were obvious sources of 
fish. The shoreline of Lake Biwa was an especially important location 
for Jomon peoples and their hunter-gather lifestyles because of its 
abundance of food from land and water. Approximately 460 rivers 
of various sizes flow into Lake Biwa with a unique arrangement of 
attached lakes (most now filled for paddy fields) but only one outflow 
(the Seta River) that eventually empties into Osaka Bay as the Yodo 
River as a communications corridor (Uemura, 2012). Dated from the 
early Jomon period, more than 30 dugout canoes (maruki-bune) have 
been discovered—the largest number ever found in Japan. 

Ancient Period 

In the early Yayoi period, water management was exercised by farmers 
where irrigation dikes drained paddy fields on the natural wetlands. 
As agriculture extended to upland areas in the 2nd century B.C. intake 
dams stretched across streams up to 10 metres wide and diversion 
canals were created. Inter-community organisations created canals 20 
to 30 metres wide on alluvial uplands. Excavations at Toro (Shizuoka 
Prefecture) uncovered third century paddy fields totalling 7.5 hectares 
and irrigated by a canal more than 370 metres long (Tabayashi, 1987: 

According to Tabayashi (1987: 58), only a strong government could 
carry out the ambitious program of constructing and maintaining the 
well-ordered pattern of rural fields, paths and ditches, known as the jori 
system. These waterways would have also served to transport rice. The 
jori system of land division was introduced after the Taika Reform of 
645 where tracts of land were divided into squares with sides measuring 
six cho (654 metres). This system made it possible for government to 
allocate land to cultivators, but the system was discontinued during the 
Heian period (794-1183). 

As covered in Chapter 3, canals were indispensable elements of port 
expansions from ancient times through to the Edo period (Sakura, 2014). 
Dating the Horie Canal is difficult but there is no doubt of its importance 
by the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. The total length of the artificial canal 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 103 

was 3 km and was cut through three parallel sand bars, each separated 
by narrow lagoons, immediately to the north of the Uemachi Terrace in 
the Osaka region (Pearson, 2016, Figure 5.18, p. 50). 

Medieval Period 

Variously, both institutions and organisations—local elites, the regional 
daimyo, merchants, influential politicians or local government—have 
been instrumental in formulating ambitious plans for canals throughout 
Japanese history to connect Lake Biwa with the ocean. Given the ancient 
cultural and political locus of Japan was around Lake Biwa and Kyoto, 
these plans involved large-scale canals linking the Sea of Japan and the 
Pacific Ocean (Yoda, 2012:294). Towards the end of the Heian period, 
Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181)—head of a powerful warrior clan— 
ordered his son, Shigemori, the local governor (shugo) of Echizen 
Province to build a 25-km long canal starting from Shiotsu in the north 
of Lake Biwa towards Tsuruga facing the Sea of Japan. The obstruction 
of Mount Fukasake caused work to stop 12 km from the port of Shiotsu, 
where a statue of jizo bosatsu (patron saint of dead children) was erected. 

The legitimacy of the national government decreased so that it no 
longer carried out major water utilisation, river flood control or canal 
projects and improvements were organised by local authorities such as 
by the shoen estates and by the daimyo. Clearly, the skills to build canals 
in Japan existed from the 12th century when there was a tradition of 
building elaborate systems of moats around castles. The Jinkouki—a 
book on mathematics for the education of ordinary people published 
first in 1627—sets out examples of the calculation of volumes of soil to 
excavate (Wasan Institute, 2000: 135-137). 

Early Modern 

River Management 

During the Warring States period, warlords developed the vast alluvial 
flood plains on major rivers that set up a cycle of flood damage and 
flood control measures. As noted by Aoyama (1999: 2) this led to the 
expansion of “local government” river administrative districts and the 

104A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

“integration of river administration measures”. A specific example 
is the 128-km long Fujigawa that rises from Nokogiriyama (2,685 
metres) in northwest Yamanashi as the Kamanashigawa then changes 
its name to the Fujigawa before emptying into Suruga Bay (Shizuoka 
Prefecture). During the sengoku period, many daimyo used advanced 
castle engineering to control the upper and middle reaches of wild rivers 
(Tabayashi, 1987: 58). For example, the local warlord Takeda Shingen 
built extensive dikes (Shingen—zusumi) along the Kamanashigawa to 
control the latitudinal inundation of floodwaters. 

Continuing the time-honoured approach to irrigation practices, the 
Tokugawa government formed water management association of villages 
in each region to ensure the collective operation and maintenance of 
water facilities as well as to regulate both water rights and distribution 
systems in each village. In general, land development efforts during the 
Ed6 period brought a rapid expansion of paddy fields and of rice yields. 
Paddy areas doubled and rice production tripled. New laws and policies 
shaped the relationship between water rights, ownership of land, the 
village community system and taxation. 

Both land and water were managed and owned by all village residents 
and agricultural works and environmental management became an 
everyday matter (Kuroishi, 2019: 155). The “Kanto method” attempted 
to control flood waters by widening riverbeds, by lengthening rivers 
through the creation of meanders, by sending excess water into holding 
basins and by altering the paths of rivers (Tabayashi, 1987:58). By the 
mid-Edo period, the provincial “integration of river administration 
measures” become the national government’s river administrative 

From a national transport perspective, the Tokugawa government 
was primarily interested in rivers as a strategic means of imposing 
control of the country along the major highways radiating from Edo. 
Boats were essential in the crossing of rivers and bays on the national 
highway system of the Tokaido. From the militaristic perspective, the 
Tokugawa government regarded the shallow ford of the Seta River near 
Osaka as a strategic point for transporting an army across the river. 
Therefore, it was naturally reluctant to dredge the riverbed despite 
it hindering economic progress. In fact, during the Edo period, the 
government allowed dredging only five times over 200 years. 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 105 

Occasionally, infrastructure projects were undertaken by the national 
government. For example, between 1624 and 1674, the Tokugawa bakufu 
constructed an extensive dike system to protect populated areas along 
the lower reaches of the Fuji River near the castle town of Sunpu. Water 
transport from Suruga Bay up-stream prospered in the Edo and early 
Meiji periods. Commercial river services were withdrawn in 1923. 

Canals in the Edo Period 

Kanazawa, located on the coast of the Sea of Japan, 260 km north 
northwest of Kyoto, was one of the largest of cities by population during 
the Edo era. In 1631, the castle was destroyed by fire. Maeda Toshitsugu 
(1617-1674), the daimyo of Kaga (today, Ishikawa Prefecture), ordered 
the construction of the Tatsumi Canal (11 km long of which 4 km are in 
tunnel), primarily for the purpose of fire protection and also to provide 
water for the gardens and moats of the rebuilt castle. The canal was 
completed in 1632. However, there is no evidence that it was used for 
transport purposes. 

Kyoto was also an important city with respect to canal development 
in the Edo era. Toyotomi Hideyoshi granted a formal trade licence 
(shuinjo) to Suminokura Ry6i (1554-1614), to manage overseas trading 
operations by importing goods from a tributary state of the Ming 
Dynasty, Yue Nan (now Vietnam). When Toyotomi Hideyoshi died 
in 1598, Suminokura Rydi became a trusted advisor and supplier of 
merchandise to Tokugawa Ieyasu and he was granted a shuinjo licence 
by his new patron to continue his overseas trading business. 

The first canal constructed in Kyoto demonstrates the dynamics of 
the three-way interactions amongst merchant organisations and the 
daimyo and bakufu. Between 1605 and 1611, Suminokura Ry6oi formed 
an enterprise with the other two leading merchant families (Chaya 
Shirdjird and Goto Shozabur6) to construct canals and to make the four 
rivers of Kyoto (Tenryu, Takase, Fuji and Hozu Rivers) more navigable 
for shipping goods. The Takase River in central Ky6to is, in effect, a 9.7- 
km long canal that rises from Nijo-Kiyamachi, meeting the Uji River at 
Fushimi Port, and crosses the Kamo River on its way. It was constructed 
in 1611 and contributed substantially to the economic prosperity of the 

106 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Similarly, the short sections of canals built around the port areas of 
Ed6 and Osaka were primarily the initiatives of merchant organisations. 
The growing economic importance of merchants in the early Edo period 
has been documented in the previous chapter with respect to land 
reclamation and canals that enhanced the rapid development of both 
ports. Colour wood-block prints of the time depict the canal frontages in 
the commercial district of Nihonbashi in Edo and the commercial canals 
of Osaka (Hashizume, 2019; Reith-Banks, 2019). 

The earliest modifications to the undulating terrain surrounding 
modern-day Toky6 were undertaken in the mid-15th century. In 1467, 
Ota Dodkan (1432-1486), a warrior and military strategist, was the 
architect and builder of a fortress at Edo for Uesugi Sadamasa (who, in 
1439, had been appointed Governor-General of the Kanto region). The 
first civil work undertaken in Edo changed the route of the Hira River 
for defence moats around the castle and to link the castle with the port 
(Sakura, 2014, Fig, 1, p. 296)—the transhipment point for the goods that 
were transported from Kamakura (Sakura, 2014: 925). 

To secure the fortification of Edd Castle from attack an elaborate 
system of moats and canals were dug, including access to Tokugawa 
land at Hama-Rikyd (now a public park) on marshes in Hibiya Bay that 
provided rich duck shooting and hawking opportunities. Quarrying of 
Kanda Hill provided the material for land reclamation that became the 
merchant town of Edo, as extensively documented by Sadler (1937), 
Naito (1993) and Kato (2000). The early construction initiatives ordered 
by Tokugawa Ieyasu included a defensive moat to the east of the castle 
and short parallel canals from Edo Bay for ships and boats to access the 

In the layout of the castle and surrounds, Tokugawa Ieyasu continued 
the Japanese tradition of cultural borrowings from the Chinese. He was 
clearly aware of the layout of Chinese Imperial cities and of the study 
of geomancy. There is much political symbolism in the layout of early 
Edo with the castle on the highest ground surrounded by the daimyo 
mansions, with the line of sight to Mount Fuji providing a spiritual axis 
for the castle. In the northeast corner—the traditional location for major 
temples that would act as a defence from evil forces—sat Sanso-ji, the 
oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo founded in 628. 

Thirty-six square enclosure gates (masugata) controlled access to 
the city. As further defence in the northeast were the Shogunal vassals’ 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 107 

mansions. Lower-ranking samurai lived in different areas. Parts of the 
southwestern section of the city were merchant and artisan districts. The 
commercial centre was located around Nihonbashi (Bridge of Japan) — 
between the castle to its west, and the river to its east—this centre 
was connected to the Sumida River, and a canal extended to the port 
providing access to incoming and outgoing shipping trade. To construct 
the city, building materials were commanded from the daimyo estates 
and shipped to Edo. 

On Tokugawa Ieyasu’s authority, Okubo Tégoro (date of birth 
unknown, died 1617) dug a waterway from Koishikawa (in present- 
day Bunky6 Ward) to satisfy the needs of the burgeoning new town 
growing up around Nihonbashi. By 1629, this rudimentary supply line 
had been expanded into the Kanda Canal, which channelled supplies 
from Inokashira Pond in present-day Mitaka into the Kanda River, then 
into a canal cut through the surrounding hillsides. After filling the 
ponds and streams in the Korakuen Garden (constructed by Tokugawa 
Yorifusa, the 11th son of Tokugawa Ieyasu) over an area of some 70,000 
square metres, the canal waters then entered the heart of the city along 
a wooden aqueduct across the Kanda River. 

Altogether, this water system served the eastern sections of Edo, 
supplying about 25 per cent of the total demand. The extent of the natural 
river systems and the canals can be interpreted from a map of Edo in 
1849 (Reith-Banks, 2019). Transport by a small wood craft (choki-bune) 
propelled by a pole pushing off the canal’s bottom became the common 
means of getting from point to point, with wooden bridges across canals 
for road transport. Today, visitors to Tokyo would be largely unaware of 
the original canal system because they have been filled in to make way 
for road and rail constructions (Seidensticker, 2019). 

The original courses of rivers have changed substantially, especially 
the Tone River (Sakura, 2014, Figures 2 and 3, pp, 927-928). The Ginza 
district of Toky6 provides a good example of how canals have been 
replaced by more modern transport infrastructure (Tokyo Reporter, 
2008). On the first floor of the Shiodome Media Tower, an exhibition 
of aerial photographs of the area taken from a balloon one century 
ago were on display. The images show how the roads, bridges and 
canals in existence from the Edo era have intermingled to produce the 
contemporary streetscape of Tokyo (Figure 2). 

108 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Ss SSS Care a 

bai 2 ri It ¥ 
| = Nishi Ginza Dori : — ~ Printemps 
— — “= Sony Bldg w " 
Vy & _ Harumi Dori Ginza Itchome stn 

aa ae Lhe 


“Higashi Ginza stn ~_— 

| EBBkabuki-za theater 

= Showa Dori 

Figure 2. Major Buildings in Modern Tokyo Superimposed on the Original Canal 
System of Ginza, c. 1900 (Scale: from Higashi Ginza Station in the south to Shin- 
Sukibashi in the north = approximately 1 km). 

Source: Tokyo Reporter, 2008. 

Lake Biwa Transport and Canals 

In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600), Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 
during his land grab to unify Japan, revived an ancient plan to connect 
Lake Biwa with the Sea of Japan. He ordered the owner of Tsuruga 
lands, Otani Yoshitsugu (1558-1600), to build a canal from Oura on Lake 
Biwa to Tsuruga located on the Sea of Japan. These works were aborted 
because of the difficult mountainous terrain. The 12-km long canal is 
named taiko no ketsu wari bori [the taiko’s morning sickness canal]. On 
numerous occasions throughout the Edo period, merchants resurrected 
the idea of linking Lake Biwa to the Sea of Japan, but all were thwarted 
by opposition either from the Tokugawa bakufu, or from local villages 
along any proposed route. 

Lake Biwa itself was, of course, navigable. The navigation and 
management of later maruko ships, and their design, corresponding to 
the depths of Lake Biwa, can be determined from ancient documents 
written and bequeathed to Katayama Minato, Tsukide Minato and Oura 
Minato who in the Edo period were resident in the former Ika-gun 
(Lake Biwa). Furthermore “The Katayama Minato Katayama” document 
and the “Tsukide Minato Takebes” document describe Lake Biwa water 
transport during the Edo era. The numbers of the maruko ships (maruko 
bune) and the circle ships (maru bune) exceeded 1,300 in the golden age 
of transport on Lake Biwa in the 18th century (Kawanabe et al., 2019). 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 109 

Lake Biwa water transport in the Edo era was the economic lifeline 
of the country carrying cargo and passengers from as far away as in the 
north of Japan to Kydto and Osaka and offering an alternative means 
of travel on a part of the road journey from Kyoto to Edo. The principal 
freight was rice that came from regions north of Kyoto along the Sea 
of Japan coast, overland to the north end of Lake Biwa, then overland 
again at the south end of the lake to the Yodo River and on to Osaka. 
In a similar fashion, travellers taking the more expensive boat option 
used Lake Biwa and the Yodo River to avoid parts of the Nakasendo and 
Tokaido highways. 

The objective of connecting Lake Biwa with the Sea of Japan at 
Tsuruga was revived again in the 19th century. At the end of Edo period, 
Maeda Yoshiyasu, daimyo of the Kaga domain (Ishikawa Prefecture), 
asked the mathematician Ishiguro Nobuyoshi (1760-1836) to survey the 
area in order to build a more efficient transport system between Kyoto 
and the Kaga domain. He started from the Tsuruga area and created a 
highly precise route survey from Tsuruga to Lake Biwa (recent research 
for the Shinminato Historical Museum by Shimasaki* has verified the 
accuracy of this survey). Ishiguro also measured onwards from Lake 
Biwa to Otsu and made a very rough preliminary plan in 10 days. 
However, the Tokugawa government was unravelling fast, and the 
daimyo no longer had power of influence on the national government, 
so Ishiguro Nobuyoshi was not able to continue his survey in that area. 

Modern Period 

Lake Biwa Canal 

In the early Meiji era, KyOto was having water shortage problems. The 
city government lobbied the national government to construct a canal 
(biwako sosui) from Lake Biwa to the city (City of Kyoto, n.d.). In 1868, 
with the transfer of the national capital from Kyoto to Tokyo, the city 
witnessed an economic decline. The Prefecture Mayor, Kunimichi 
Kitagaki (1836-1916), was appointed in 1881 and aspired to inject 
new life back into the community by commissioning the construction 

3 Material collected during an interview with Mr Yoshitsu Shimasaki at the 
Shinminato Museum, Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture, Japan. 

110 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

of Lake Biwa Canal for the purposes of town water supply, irrigating 
surrounding paddy fields, water to fight fires and electrical power 
generation for cotton spinning. 

It is pertinent to note that in a state recently liberated from feudalism 
and emerging as a modern democratic state the proposed Lake Biwa 
Canal project was not without its opponents. Many local farmers along 
the proposed route of the canal were opposed to its construction but the 
negotiated outcome of the conflict was a promise that the canal would 
provide irrigated water to the rice paddies in seasons when the rainfall 
was insufficient for a good rice harvest (Kitagaki, 2010). 

The historical significance of this integrated development project is 
that it was the first project in the Meiji era that did not involve foreign 
engineers. Minami Ichirobe and Shimada Michio conducted the survey 
and made the plan based on Western mathematics—although their 
work was possibly based on Ishiguro’s earlier survey because the route 
is almost the same and the locations of the outlets are exactly as Ishiguro 
Nobuyoshi had planned. Preparatory work was also undertaken for a 
transport canal, with Minami Ichirobe (who had been the chief engineer 
working with the Dutch advisor van Doorn on the construction of 
the Asaka Canal in Fukushima Prefecture) conducting a preliminary 
route survey. Shimada Michio made the necessary measurement of the 
route between Otsu on Lake Biwa and Kydto—a 20-km long canal. The 
volume of rock estimated in the tunnelling through the mountain at 
Mount Nagana had been previously calculated in a thesis at Imperial 
College London—illustrating again the influence of foreign technology 
in the early Meiji period. 

Tanabe Sakuro, a graduate of the School of Engineering, Imperial 
University of Tokyo, was engaged by the Kyoto Prefecture as Chief Civil 
Engineer and started work on the project in May 1883. Permission to 
begin construction was sought from the national government in May 
1884 who gave authorisation in January 1885 but with approval for a 
more ambitious building plan. Today, this is known in the construction 
industry as “scope creep” that effectively doubled the initial budget 
allocation by the local government of 600,000 yen. 

The Prefecture Assembly resolved to proceed and financed the revised 
project by imposing heavier taxes on Kydto residents. The construction 
cost estimate was 1,250,000 silver dollars (twice the annual budget of the 
Prefecture) with one-quarter paid for by a national government grant, 

4. Canals, Rivers and Lakes 111 

one-third paid by the Meiji Emperor and the remainder raised through 
local taxation (van Gasteren, 2001). The canal was completed by navvy 
labour (altogether involving 4 million workers) within five years with 
three tunnels, including the 2,436-metre long tunnel through Mount 
Nagana that required bricks and timber especially for the purpose, and 
generated a brickwork factory nearby. An impression of the canal at 
Otsu on Lake Biwa as it looks today is obtained from the photograph 
in Figure 3. 


wl 4 
unt ela 4 
Entel 4 

Figure 3. Photograph of the Lake Biwa Canal at Otsu on Lake Biwa, 2018. 
Source: Photographs by Author and Dr Masaki Arioka. 

The difference in height between Lake Biwa and Kyoto is approximately 
73 metres with a mean grade of 1: 0.00037. Its width is from 6 to 10 
metres—advantageous to the water transport of goods (primarily rice 

112 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

and cotton) coming from the Lake Biwa hinterland to Kyoto and beyond. 
The canal stimulated agricultural production around Lake Biwa and the 
goods transport canal opened up the markets in Ky6to and Osaka as the 
road alternative means of transport was costly on the unsealed Sanjo 
road that was especially difficult for laden packhorses and porters in the 
hilly terrain—slippery after rain and impassable after snow. However, 
the return journey from Kyéto is against the gravity flow of water so 
the barges had to be poled by boatmen and pulled by assistants using 
ropes. Traffic is only one-way in the narrow tunnels so that boat ponds 
were constructed at the tunnel portals to allow boats to pass each other. 

When the Kyoto City Council was created in April 1889 it took 
ownership of the canal on completion exactly one year later in 1890. In 
June of that year work commenced on the Kamo River canal that would 
allow goods to be transshipped from the Lake Biwa Canal via the Kamo 
and Yoda rivers to Osaka. In 1891, the first phase of the Keage Power 
Station was completed with power delivery commencing six months 
later. At the eastern end of Lake Biwa Canal is an ingenious device that 
solved the steep gradient problem. A scale working-model of this is on 
display in the Lake Biwa Canal Museum of Kyoto ( /suido). At either end of the double track incline railway is 
a metal open carriage that is designed to take the wooden boat. Gravity 
takes the carriage on wheels downwards pulling the other carriage 
upwards. The rails extend a short way underwater so effectively the 
boats float on and off of the carriages. 

The economic impact of the multi-functional canal is especially 
interesting. In fact, by far the greatest income from the canal came from 
selling electricity to the emerging industrialisation processes in Kyoto: 
fabrics and silk; tobacco factories; engineering machinery; and electrical 
goods. The farmers received water for irrigation when they needed it, 
and the reservoir of water was a source for fire protection given that the 
buildings in Kyoto were then constructed of timber. 

Lake Biwa Canal was a transport artery that brought goods and new 
wealth to the city and for the waterpower it provided in the stimulation 
of new industries, such as cotton spinning. The canal facilitated the 
construction of Japan’s first industrial hydro-electric power generation 
plant using a Pelton waterwheel (a water impulse turbine patented in 
1880) and a Stanley generator. The energy generated by the water wheels 
allowed the spinning of cotton. The Kyoto City Water Department 
commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the completion of Canal 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 113 

Number 1 with a three-volume collection in the Lake Biwa Museum 
that is a rich source of data for further analysis. 

In 1923, there was another grand plan to link Osaka to Tsuruga 
via Lake Biwa. As the military influence on the national government 
of Japan increased, Yoshida Kozaburo, an army captain, proposed the 
“Great Hanton Canal” linking Osaka with Tsuruga (Yoda, 2012: 294). 
The plan included lowering the level of Lake Biwa by a staggering 43 
metres to reduce the number of locks required along the route. This 
would have reduced the surface area of the lake by about one-half and 
would have resulted in reclaimed land for cultivation. However, its main 
policy objective was to allow the movement of 4,000-ton warships and 
3,000-ton steamships. Twelve years later, the Chief Engineer of the Lake 
Biwa Canal expanded on this plan, re-branding it as the Great Lake Biwa 
Canal that would allow 10,000-ton ships to pass through this proposed 
waterway complex. 

This plan of linking the Seto Inland Sea with the Sea of Japan was 
aborted with the onset of the Pacific War. In the mid-20th century 
this planned transport infrastructure was clearly obsolete. It therefore 
appears somewhat anachronistic that, in 1961, a partnership between 
a political entrepreneur, Baron Ono Tomochika, and the Mayor of 
Yokkaichi (a small town in Mie prefecture at the head of Ise Bay on 
its west bank) came up with a new plan to cut a canal joining Ise Bay 
with the Sea of Japan. The overall distance was about 130 km with a 
substantial portion of the route using the current level of Lake Biwa. 

Meiji Administration of Rivers and Canals 

The Imperial Constitution of 1889 stimulated work on new laws and 
regulations including the 1896 River Law that contained many pre-Meiji 
practices (Aoyama, 1999: Word of Recommendation). The 1896 River Act 
was one of the earliest comprehensive modern river codes in the world 
(Infrastructure Development Institute, 1999). Its purpose was water 
control and thus the law contained only one Article (Number 28) on river 
transport: that covered prohibitions, restrictions and permission for the 
navigation of boats/ships and rafts. The national government was the 
regulatory authority for major rivers and prefectural government the 
authority for smaller rivers. In essence, the relevant river administrator 
specifies the maximum dimensions of boats and ships and their draught 

114 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

that are permitted to pass through the various locks on the river system. 
Various revisions were made during the modern era. 

In the same year that the first River Act was promulgated, the great 
flood of 1896 caused serious damage in the Kyoto region, including 111 
casualties and 7,885 collapsed houses. Local government initiated a 
large-scale disaster prevention program, targeting the entire Lake Biwa 
and the Yodo River Basin. The program comprised of the widening 
and dredging of the shallow fords of the Seta River, construction of the 
Nango Araizeki Weir, and improvement works on the lower reaches of 
the Uji and the Yodo Rivers. 

As a result, the Seta River flow capacity increased fourfold. Weir 
gates were installed to maintain the water level of Lake Biwa and the 
flow of the Seta River control. The gates, however, were manually 
operated, requiring one full day to open and two days to close. It is clear 
that Japanese canals in the modern era were primarily constructed and 
modified for the purposes of flood mitigation. 

Modern Democratic Period 

After the end of the Pacific War, Japan underwent substantial social and 
economic change to the extent that the River Law required reform. Japan 
had constructed some 3,000 dams since this first law. A new River Act 
in 1964 dealt primarily with water control, water rights and allocation, 
and, in essence, divided rivers into class A (national government 
management—today, its administration is by the Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) and Class B (prefectural 
government management). Management of the former involves a wide 
range of players from government institutions and private organisations, 
as detailed in the Tone River case study published by the OECD (2015). 

Two of the most important flood control activities are the central 
government's administration of levees and sluice gates (Atsumi, 2009), 
including the planning and administration of super levees (Hashiguti 
et al., 2009; Nakamura et al., 2013). When the River Act was amended 
in 1997—where rapid post-war industrialisation had polluted and 
degraded rivers—it included more emphasis on “environmental 

Recently, the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism (2019: 87) revised the River Act to promote a greater involvement 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 115 

of more organisations in civil society to contribute towards river 
conservation: “river administrators may designate private organizations 
such as NPOs that conduct activities related to active river maintenance 
and conservation of the river environment...” The River Cooperative 
Organization System provides assistance for river management projects. 
For example, the Ecology Research Club Hiroshima is a river cooperative 
organisation that conducts activities such as participating in activities 
to beautify the Ota River, providing hands-on learning for children, 
training instructors and observing tidal flats at discharge channels 
(Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2019: 
88, Figure 3-2-8). 

Another example of the involvement of non-government 
organisations is the promotion of recreational boat cruising for domestic 
and international tourists. In March 2018, after 67 years, a tourist boat 
cruise connecting Kyoto with Lake Biwa was revived. Lake Biwa Canal 
Cruise is available by advance reservation only. A 12-person boat travels 
down the canal. In 2018, the Canal Cruise operated from 29 March to 
28 May and from 6 October to 28 November to capture scenery in the 
distinctly Japanese ‘four seasons’ ( 


For reasons of mountainous terrain on Honshi, rivers have played little 
part in the history of transport in Japan other than where coastal roads 
required a boat crossing from one bank of the river to the other. Water 
transport has been related to the constant drive at a local level to improve 
irrigation systems that have had the co-benefits to water transport rather 
than the construction of a national network of canals as occurred in 
many other countries. Over the centuries these rivers in Japan have been 
modified not for navigation and transport but more for irrigation, flood 
control and water supply. For example, the course of the Tone River has 
been artificially changed to prevent flooding of the Ed6 and Tone canals 
that were built in more recent years in Saitama, Musashi and Asaka to 
supply water to Tokyo. An estuary barrage was constructed to control 
the salinity of wp-stream water (www.water.gojp). 

Japan had no ‘canal age’ and the story of canals can best be 
summarised by the author as “the age of aborted canals”. The little there 

116 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

was of canal construction in Japan dates from at least the 6th century 
although there have been numerous plans to cut across the island of 
Honshi to link the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean via Lake Biwa. 
Table 8 lists these plans with the proposed routes (that amounts to 24 km 
of construction), the instigators and the approximate dates of each plan. 
A sketch map of the routes proposed for the various canal plans that 
have been summarised in Table 8 can be found in Yoda (2012, Figure 1, p. 
294). It should be noted that the sketch map is a little deceptive because 
it does not show the mountainous terrain that blunted construction 
between the northern end of Lake from Oura and Shiotsu to Tsuranga. 
Topography explains why the maximum length of canal construction 
was only 12 km. 

Table 8. Canal Plans to Link the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean via 
Lake Biwa, Mid 12th to the Mid-20th century. 
Source: Author. 

Canal Plan Completed Instigator Date 
Length km 

25-km long canal 12 Provincial Government— ___ | Mid- 
starting from Shiotsu in Taira no Kiyomori, head | 12th C 
the north of Lake Biwa of a warrior clan in 
towards Tsuruga Echizen Province 
Canal from Oura on 12 Provincial Government— ___| Late- 
Lake Biwa to Tsuruga Toyotomi Hideyoshi 16th C 

ordered the owner of 
Tsuruga lands, Otani 

Yoshitsugu to build the 
Lake Biwa to Tsuruga 0 Kyoto merchants lobby 1722 
Tokugawa bakufu 
Route survey from 0 Provincial Government— _ | Mid- 
Tsuruga to Lake Biwa Maeda Yoshiyasu, 19th C 
Daimyo of the Kaga 
Osaka to Tsuruga via 0 Lobbying of National 1923 
Lake Biwa Government by Yoshida 

Kozaburo, an army 
captain; Ministry of 
Construction allocated 
money for survey 

4, Canals, Rivers and Lakes 117 

Canal Plan Completed Instigator Date 
Length km 
130 km canal joining 0 Private initiative—Baron | 1961 
Ise Bay with the Sea of Ono Tomochika, 
Japan businessman, and Mayor 
of Yokkaichi (local 

From the mid-12th century the key players in these canal proposal and 
construction attempts have been the war lords controlling the necessary 
territory, Taira no Kiyomori, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Maeda Yoshiyasu, 
merchant associations from Kyoto, military strategist, Yoshida Kozaburo, 
and a business entrepreneur, Baron Ono Tomochika, together with local 
government support from the Mayor of Yokkaichi. Table 9 summarises 
those canals that were constructed in the study area for the purposes 
of water transport, although the Lake Biwa Canal was built also for 
irrigation and electricity generation. In the case of the canals built in 
Osaka and Ed6 they were part of land reclamation on marshy ground 
to provide access to warehouses and commercial properties. The table 
lists the names of the key individuals responsible for these initiatives, 
noting that it was first the merchant class that were responsible for canal 
building in the Edo period, then the local government of Ky6to in the 
construction of the Lake Biwa Canal in the late 19th century. 

Table 9. Japanese Canal Construction During the Early Modern and 
Modern Periods—Key Agents. 
Source: Author. 

Canal Constructed Date Key Agents 
Osaka port and commercial Early Merchants—Doton Nariyasu, 
district 17th C Suminokura Ryoi 
Kyoto Takase River Canal 1611 Merchants—Suminokura Ry6i, 
(9.7 km) from Nijo- Chaya Shirdjiro and Goto 
Kiyamachi to Fushimi Port, Shozaburo 
Edo port and commercial Early Shogun—Tokugawa Ieyasu 
areas around Nihonbashi 17th C 
Lake Biwa Canal (20 km) 1885 Local Government—Kyoto 

Prefecture Mayor, Kitagaki 

118 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The key players in these successful canal developments came both from 
the institutions of government and from merchant organisations. In 
Osaka and Kyoto, the prime movers of commercial canal developments 
were local merchants including Doton Nariyasu, Suminokura Ryédi, 
Chaya Shirdjiro and Goto Shozaburo. The canals that formed the core of 
17th century Edo commercial developments on the banks of the Sumida 
River were under the direction of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and his 
successors. The multi-functional Lake Biwa Canal, undertaken in the late 
19th century at the initiative of the Kyoto Prefecture Mayor, Kunimichi 
Kitagaki, and funded by the national and prefecture governments 
and the Meiji Emperor, represents Japan’s best example of a formerly 
important transport canal—now a tourist attraction. 


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5. Roads 

Kono michi ya 
Yuku hito nashi ni 
Aki no kure! 

Basho, 1694, quoted by Bamhill, 2004: 150 


This chapter describes the institutional arrangements for ancient and 
modern roads and the organisations that emerged to administer roads 
and to transport goods around the country. Unless there was river 
access, the transfer of people and goods to and from the ports into their 
hinterlands required rudimentary tracks for porters and for horses. As 
in many countries, documentary evidence on early road administration 
is sparse but from Chapter 2 it is clear that the local ruling elites directed 
slaves or coerced peasants into repairing sections of ancient highways 
or tracks damaged by natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons 
and floods. 

The sengoku-daimyo made extensive capital works improvements in 
their domains including road improvements. However, a major obstacle 
to the development of a modern capitalistic system in Japan was the 
problem of access to a free, national road network. For example, in the 
Edo period the bakufu administered road policy by regulating barrier 
stations and post stations and issuing passports to the population of 
artisans, farmers and merchants. An enduring government policy 
instrument has been barrier stations (sekisho) and a long section 
describes their policy objectives drawn from the research by Vaporis 

1 A haiku of 5-7-5 syllables translates as: “this road—/ with no one on it / autumn 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // 

122 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The subject is covered in the Japanese language by Takebe (2015). 
Barriers on roads were first established as a government instrument in 
the Yamato State then expanded into a system of government-controlled 
barrier stations established after the Taika Reform of 645 that were 
finally abolished in the 19th century. With the transfer of the capital 
of the Tokugawa bakufu to Edo at the beginning of the 17th century, 
Tokugawa Ieyasu understood the military objective of gaining greater 
political control of the country and authorised five designated highways 
(gokaido), as part of Tokugawa domains radiating from Ed6 and a set 
of interrelated controlling policy instruments that unfolded during the 
first half a century of Tokugawa rule. The Shdgunate-controlled post 
stations on the gokaido were an additional means of reinforcing national 
security as well as providing revenue to the central government. 

With the collapse of the Tokugawa government in 1868 the 
Meiji Restoration saw the importation of western approaches to the 
administration of public works. With the rise of mechanised vehicle 
transport for the movement of people and goods, modern road 
authorities have been established as government institutions by acts of 
parliament in their respective jurisdictions. For example, in the U.S.A., 
the aim was to get the farmers out of the mud, and state road authorities 
were established in Australia from the 1920s onwards. 

In the case of Japan, such developments have occurred only in 
relatively recent times following the Allied bombing of civil and 
military infrastructure during the Second World War. The post- 
war reconstruction of the road sector was greatly influenced by the 
Americans following the adoption of recommendations in the World 
Bank-sponsored Watkins Report (1952). Today, there is a large, modern 
bureaucracy within the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism that administers the highway sector of the Japanese economy. 

Ancient Roads in Japan 

From time immemorial in the Jomon period, people tramping narrow 
paths forged local communication networks amongst small tribes. 
Japanese archeological scholars have traced the diffusion of the later 
Yayoi paddy culture from the Itazuka region of Kyiishii to Lake Biwa 
and then to the northeast by an inland route so as to avoid Jomon coastal 
settlements. This route was the precursor to the Tosando (Barnes, 2019: 

5. Roads 123 

35 and Figure 2, p.35) that was to become part of the gokaido road 
system in later Ed6 times. 

There is clear reference to roads (or circuits) by the 10th legendary 
Emperor, Sujin (c. 3-4th century), who sent his son to the twelve 
circuits to quell rebellions in adjacent kingdoms of the Emishi (Ainu), as 
recorded in the Kojiki (Chamberlain, 1981, Vol.23, Section LXVI, p. 216, 
footnote 2). A “road” had the same sense of a “circuit” or a “province” 
at that time (Chamberlain, 1981, Vol. 22, section LX, p. 194, footnote 20). 
These tracks would have been reinforced and widened by horse riders 
on Imperial business to the provinces and by troop movements. Chapter 
3 has also described the diplomatic and economic importance of roads 
in the hinterland of ports facilitating the movement of taxation goods 
and enabling pilgrimages to take place to famous shrines and temples. 

From at least the 5th century A.D. roads linked settlements, palaces, 
tombs, craft production areas and ports (Pearson, 2016: 49). Japanese 
scholars are confident in their speculation that road infrastructure (and, 
by implication, some embryonic road administration) was established 
in the Kofun period (about 300-538 A.D.). For example, archeological 
excavations in 1983 of the Otsu Road built in the late 5th century to link 
Kofun burial mounds showed that the road formation was 1.7 metres 
wide and 0.3 metres deep (Pearson, 2016: 50). The “most imposing of all 
was the Naniwa Great Road” connecting Shitenndji Temple and Naniwa 
Palace that had a width of 17 metres with one metre ditches on the 
side. It was in use by the end of the fourth century A.D. (Pearson, 2016: 
50). This suggests the deployment and direction by some authority 
(institution) managing the slave labour that constructed the road. 

In what the Japan Heritage Portal Site (2019) claims as the oldest 
“national highway” in Japan, the “Road of the Sun” was a straight road, 
over 20 metres wide, connecting Naniwa and Nara. Sections of this east- 
west road, the Tajihi Kaido (road) or Take no uchi Kaido, linked the 
important burial tombs at Konda Goby6yama k6fun and at Daisenry6 
kofun with the Nara Basin (Pearson, 2016: 50). The road’s strategic 
significance to the development of Japan is that Chinese missionaries 
arrived in Naniwa and travelled to Asuka along this road introducing 
Buddhist culture and Chinese technology. These various roads connected 
the great burial tumuli of the Kinai Region to the East Asian continent 
through ports in Sakai and Naniwa, facilitating the movement of goods, 
flows of information, and international exchange. Ong (n.d.) suggests 

124 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

that the Take no uchi Kaidd—a 26-km long highway that linked Sakai 
with the Nara basin—is “the oldest major road in Japan”. 

The Taih6 Reforms (702 A.D.) introduced national administration— 
the RitsuryO system—and this formed the basis of an institution 
responsible for a national highway network, including the planting of 
road-side trees for shade in summer. The country was divided into seven 
major regions plus the five ‘home provinces’ (Kinai) that immediately 
surrounded the capital of Nara (Heijo-kyo was established in 710). 
Japan was further divided into 58 provinces (kuni), each administered 
from a provincial capital (kokufu). The roads (circuits) facilitated good 
communications and the efficient movement of Imperial troops in times 
of unrest. Rice tax was gathered in these provincial capitals before 
shipment by road to the Imperial capital. 

Initially, the design of this highway system was a direct copy of the 
road system in China established during the Chou dynasty (1122-1222 
B.C.), and subsequently improved in the Chin dynasty (222-207 B.C.). 
Chin highways were 50 paces wide, paved or well compacted, and 
lined with “shade trees” with each tree located at an interval of every 
10 metres. Post stations at intervals of every 30 ri (approximately every 
112 km) provided fresh horses for those travelling on official business. 
The Taih6o Code stipulated similar dimensions for the Japanese highway 
system, but, given the different mountainous topography, modifications 
were made with Japanese roads being narrower, and the post stations 
were placed at an average interval of 5 ri (20 km). 

The seven “official” highways were ranked according to three grades: 
the principal highway (San’yod6), where regulations stipulated the 
availability of 20 horses at each post station; two secondary highways 
(Todkaid6 and Tosand6) with post stations that provided 10 horses; and 
four lesser highways (shoro) with post stations providing five horses. 
Virtually no other services, such as the provision of food and lodging, 
were available at post stations. The San’yod6 was awarded prominence 
in this road hierarchy because it connected the Kinai region with the 
port of Dazaifu to the west that was an important provincial capital in 
northern Kyishi—a point of arrival for Chinese and Korean emissaries 
and skilled craft workers at that time. 

In addition to supporting the national institutions of the Court 
and the military or the local government institutions, the other major 
participants in overland transport were teamsters or carters using 

5. Roads 125 

either carts (shariki) or horses (bashaku) that were located in the ports 
and satellite towns around Kyoto. Merchants also provided services 
and organised themselves into caravans—typically tens to hundreds of 
merchants when travelling long distances. Itinerant peddlers (renjaku) 
travelled shorter distances with wares carried on their shoulders. 

Medieval Roads in Japan 

From the late 12th century, the ancient highways—the coastal Tokaido 
and the Tosand6 (renamed as the Nakasend6), that was a more difficult 
inland alternative route when lower reaches of rivers flooded on the 
TokaidG—provided the necessary Imperial and military government 
communication to and from the Emperor’s Court in Kyoto and 
Kamakura—a distance of about 430 km that could be covered by relays 
of fresh horses in about 76 hours. The Tokaido in the 12th century from 
Kyoto to Kamakura is described by Tyler (2012, Book 10: 6, pp. 537-541) 
as having one wooden bridge and post station inns along its route. 

As Imperial control weakened, especially during the Heian period 
(as discussed in Chapter 2), control over the roads fell to local interests, 
and travel became even more difficult. Roads and barriers (sekisho) were 
either under the control of the propriety lords (ryoshii) of shden estates, 
or, under the control of the regional warlords (in essence, the institution 
of local government). Some warlords reintroduced the ancient practice 
of planting shade trees. There was little incentive to improve road 
communication in Japan because of the medieval structure of largely 
self-sufficient domains. The institution of barriers, that endured to the 
modern period, are described next. 

The Institution of Barriers (sekisho) 

Reference has already been made to the role of barriers (sekisho) but 
their enduring nature from ancient times until 1868 requires careful 
exposition. The institution of sekisho was first established as a government 
instrument in the Yamato State. Toll barriers failed to discourage trade 
either because of the corruption of local officials responsible for their 
operation or because the barriers were circumvented by alternative 
routes. Nevertheless, the government installations (sekisho) at strategic 
points along traffic routes, where travellers were stopped for inspection, 

126 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

were one unique, and enduring policy (apart from a brief lapse) in 
Japan lasting from the 7th century to the mid-19th century. 

Importantly, for later policy developments in the road sector, was this 
system of government barrier stations for defence purposes established 
after the Taika Reform of 645 (Kodansha, 1993: 1496-1497). The so-called 
sankan (three barriers) were located at Suzuka (now Mie Prefecture), 
Fuwa (Gifu Prefecture) and Arachi (Fukui Prefecture) were regarded as 
of special importance being on strategic routes in case of state dissidents 
or incursions from the ara-emishi (wild-emishi*) from the north eastern 
provinces of Mutsu and Dewa. Since the 7th century, frequent uprisings 
by the indigenous Emishi, who were enemies of the Yamato State, were 
a constant source of irritation: state control of the frontier remained 
tenuous (Matsuda, 2019). Another example of the strategic military 
value of barrier stations is the barrier station at Fuwa (Sekigahara) that 
was erected in 673 following the Jinshin Rebellion’ and the Battle at Seta 
Bridge a year earlier (Kodansha, 1993: 685). 

During the mid-Heian period (794-1185), by when the Emishi had 
been pushed further north-east onto the island of Hokkaid6, government 
sekisho fell into disuse. In their place, propriety lords (ryoshi) of the 
shoen estates established their own private barrier stations that levied 
tolls (sekisen) in one form or another. Under the shden system of a self- 
sufficient economy the ryoshi controlled the manufacture of luxury 
and special products, the construction and service trades and the 
exchange of goods. Goods were as yet not freely produced for a general 
market nor freely traded for commercial profit. By the end of the Heian 
period, institutions of government and of religion had erected barriers. 
The Imperial government levied tolls on travellers and commerce to 
compensate from the reduction of income as tax-free estates (shden) 

2 A stanza by Kikai (Matsuda, 2019: 27), written around 815 A.D., describes the 
conflicts between the aboriginal Emishi and Japanese colonists: 

“They are like the man-eating Raksasa devils, they are not human 
They frequently come to our settlements, 
Where countless people and oxen are massacred and eaten 
Their galloping horses and brandished swords are 
like flashes of lightening” 
3 Following the death of Emperor Tenji (626-672) there was a war of succession where 
Prince Oama, Tenji’s younger brother, supported by local rulers who resented the 
Taika Reforms of 645, defeated the nominated heir, Prince Otomo. 

5. Roads 127 

spread across the country. Likewise, local military powers (jit6) and 
religious organisations erected barriers on their estates to raise revenues. 

Barrier stations proliferated during the Kamakura and Muromachi 
periods. For example, the Ashikaga family were intimately involved 
both in the development of a commercial economy and in the patronage 
of new commercial and service groups. The economy was then 
fundamentally transformed during the Muromachi period because of 
the ryoshii control over the shden estates weakened and because of the 
new demands placed upon the economy by the military aristocracy 
in the provinces. Commerce developed as a separate activity within 
the national economy. In turn, the Muromachi bakufu become more 
and more dependent on the services of commercial tax contractors. 
Most trading and artisan activities moved into the intermediate status 
of guilds and monopoly organisations (za) that depended either for 
protection on the aristocracy or on support from powerful religious 
institutions. Nevertheless, the continued existence of commercial tolls 
and barriers meant that trade remained highly regulated. 

During the Warring State period (1477-1567) the military function 
of the barrier re-emerged. Most daimyo were preoccupied by erecting 
barriers (bansho) to defend the borders of their domains—even during 
the period of national unification (1568-1600). Warlords constructed 
armed outposts with high walls and deep moats on sites that offered 
natural defences, or structures on strategic mountain passes. Striving 
for the unification of the country, both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi endeavoured to promote economic growth and to assert their 
political power authority over territories by pulling down these barriers 
to free trade. 

The full story of barrier stations—‘“a curious institution”—is 
thoroughly documented by Vaporis (1994, Chapter 3: 99-133) and 
only the salient points of this complex policy instrument, vigorously 
implemented by the Tokugawa bakufu from the early 17th century, are 
summarised here. 

The creation of a sekisho network must be seen as the act of a nascent 
political power to establish and extend its authority over the other daimyo 
and over a society that had been experiencing tremendous upheaval... 
The bakufu gave and took land at will, built up and maintained military 
superiority over its likely opponents, prohibited the construction of 
new castles and required authorisation for the repair of old ones. It 
also maintained a system of direct surveillance of the domains through 

128 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

centrally appointed inspectors, assumed direct control of key commercial 
cities, and supervised both domestic and foreign trade (Vaporis, 1994: 

The mature network of Tokugawa sekisho consisted of 53 barriers in 9 
provinces of which 24 were classified by the bakufu government as omaki 
(very important). The distribution of barriers (see Vaporis, 1994, Map 2 
and legend, pp. 106-107) reflects the political concerns of the Tokugawa 
bakufu attentive to the potential military threat of the daimyo in the north 
and northwest of Honshi. 

The physical size of the barrier was in proportion to its strategic 
military importance with one or two simple buildings each with a 
number of rooms serving various functions (Vaporis, 1994: 112-114). 
For example, at Hakone, and its five branch stations, there were in total 
51 guards (in 1688) comprising of head guards (banshi), who inspected 
the surrounding areas, regular guards (joban), who inspected authorised 
travel permits (see next section), foot soldiers (ashigaru) and attendants 
(chiigen). The arsenal at Hakone contained 10 teppo (matchlock guns 
modelled on those brought to Japan by the Portuguese in the mid- 
16th century), five Japanese native long bows made of bamboo, 15 
long-handled spears and halberd and 12 staves (Vaporis, 1994: Table 6: 
117). Several barrier stations employed a peasant reserve (go ashigaru) 
where the government used commoners as “an apparatus of the state” 
(Vaporis, 1994: 118). 

Today, travellers in Japan can see what Lord Redesdale called a 
“curious institution” at the Hakone barrier station (Redesdale, 1915: 
406; Vaporis, 1994: 99). A restoration of this strategically located sekisho 
on the Tokaid6 between Lake Ashi and an adjacent mountain range 
may be inspected today (The Association for Japanese History and 
Travel, n.d.; and AllAboutJapan, 2017). In addition, Vaporis (1994: 112) 
describes these structures and provides a diagrammatic plan of their 
layout (Vaporis, 1994: Table 4, p. 113) that housed 22 guards (in 1688). 
In addition, the British painter Nigel Caple travelled along the Tokaido 
Road between 1998 and 2000 and made artistic drawings of the fifty-five 
barrier stations (sekisho). 

5. Roads 129 

Roads in the Early Modern Period 

Edo Roads 

In Japan, a national approach to administering a road network emerged 
again from the middle of the 17th century. Although it took more than 
half a century before the Tokugawa bakufu formally introduced road 
administration it was essentially the vision of oneman—Tokugawa Ieyasu 
as the ‘policy entrepreneur’—who reinforced the strategic importance 
of the road sector as an attempt to secure peace and to control society’s 
spatial mobility. In 1603, when the court appointed Tokugawa Ieyasu as 
seii taishogun (“Barbarian-Subduing Generalissimo”) he established the 
Ed6 Shégunate, and created a “centralised Feudalism” (Vaporis, 1994: 32) 
where previous territorial tensions were balanced between the national 
government and the regional daimyos. Parochialism was superseded by 
an embryonic national economy that emerged during the Edo period. 

The facilitation of economic progress owed much to a national 
network of roads (and also to coastal shipping). There was a strategic 
requirement to gain greater political control of the country. The bakufu 
promptly embarked on the construction of a nationwide transport 
system, including a highway network, secure barrier stations and post 
station towns that supplied lodgings, labour and horses. The government 
authorised five designated highways radiating from Ed6 and set up 
barriers at strategic points to regulate the movement of people across the 
country through the issue of travel permits. Four major thoroughfares 
radiated from Nihonbashi (now the symbolic centre of Japan) and a fifth 
branched off from one of the four (for a map, see https://en.wikipedia. 

For the most part, these roads passed through domains held by 
the fudai daimyo, the hereditary vassals of the Tokugawa family, thus 
ensuring safe communications for government officials across the 
country. Eight branch roads were also part of the national road system 
(Vaporis, 1994, Map 1, p. 20). Typically, road widths varied from 5.5 
metres to 7.3 metres (Vaporis, 1994: 36). 

Table 10 summarises the important characteristics of the gokaid6 
that largely conformed to the natural contours of the land and required 
numerous river crossings by boat and, in the case of the Tokaido, an 

130 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

open sea-crossing between Miya and Kuwana. The table also gives 
the number of post stations along each route. The Koshu docht’s 
main function was an escape route for Tokugawa forces from Edo. A 
retreating party could pick up the road at the Hanzomon of Ed6 Castle 
and be protected by a 100-man musket unit stationed on the western 
outskirts of the city at Naito Shinjuku (a post station town). Further 
west at Hachioji, a 1,000-man samurai unit was strategically located to 
cover the escape route. Fudai daimyo controlled the castle town of Kofu 
and this provided even more protection. Here, the escaping party could 
continue northwards to the Nakasendo or to travel by boat down the 
Fuji River to a bakufu-controlled stronghold on the Tokaid6, Sumpu 
(Shizuoka), where Tokugawa Ieyasu had ordered the construction of a 
three-moated castle in 1607. 

Table 10. Strategic Importance of the Tokugawa Shogunate Gokaido 
System of Roads. 
Source: based on Vaporis, 1994: Table 1, p. 23 and pp. 32-34. 

Road Length | Stations | Strategic Importance 
(km) (no.) 
Tokaido 539 57 Coastal link to commercial centre of 

Osaka after Tokugawa military power 
increased with the fall of Osaka Castle in 

Nakasendo 527 67 Links to Imperial Court at Kyoto as 

the alternative inland route although 
mountainous had cheaper transport- 
related services 

Koshu docht | 211 45 Connects with the Nakasend6 at Shimo- 
suwa where the entire road was lined 

by fudai daimyo estates (with standing 
armies) and provided escape route for 
Shogunate if attacked in Ed6; also, of 
great economic value providing access to 
gold on Takeda family domains 

Nikko docht | 145 21 A direct line of communication to 
counter any attacks by any north eastern 

Oshti dochi | 396 10 Branches off the Nikko docha at 

Utsunomiya towards Shirakawa—a fudai 
castle town designed to repel any attacks 
by the north eastern daimyo 

5. Roads 131 

Another example of the internal control of movements by the bakufu 
is the shallow ford of the Seta River regarded as a strategic point for 
transporting an army across this river. The government was naturally 
reluctant to dredge the riverbed despite its obvious commercial 
advantages for river trade between Osaka and its hinterland. The 
Tokugawa Shogunate government formally allowed dredging only five 
times in 200 years. As with any edict there were cases of law breakers: 
the farmers around the lake (a loose coalition of interests) occasionally 
dredged the riverbed themselves, pretending that they were collecting 
clams. This opened up a narrow channel and faster water flow for small 
boats to ply the river thus facilitating the movement of rice harvests and 
goods by water. 

Edo Period Road Maps 

Considerable details on roads are contained in documents and 
woodblock prints that have survived together with guidebooks, maps, 
and other travel-related materials published during the Edo period. 
An atlas of the Tokaidé highway between Edo and Osaka, compiled by 
Ochikochi Doin and illustrated by the famous ukiyo-e artist, Hishikawa 
Moronobu (1618-1694), was first printed in 1690. It was published as a 
set of five volumes that form a route map of the highway. The atlas is in 
the album format; this consists of a number of narrow sheets carefully 
pasted together to form a continuous sheet that can be laid flat or open 
at any section. 

Another important publication from 1810 is the ryoko yojin shu (Travel 
Precautions). This shows the highway system (including point-to-point 
distances) and the locations of barrier stations, rivers, mountains, 
famous places, hot springs and temples that issued amulets. The book 
offered descriptions of travel equipment and medical remedies for sea 
sickness, falling off a horse and poisonous insect bites. Other publications 
included picture books such as Utagawa Hiroshige’s woodblock print 
compilation Tokaidé gojusan tsugi (Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido); and 
publications that introduced specific places, such as Tokaido meisho zue 
(Pictures of Famous Places along the Tokaido), Edd meisho zue (Pictures of 
Famous Places in Edo) and Dochii sugoroku (a board game with a picture 


132 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Road-Related Policies During the Ed6 Period 

In 1601, Tokugawa Ieyasu dispatched Okubo Nagayasu (1545-1613)—a 
Senior Councillor in the bakufu and Hikosaka Motomosa—the Chief 
Intendant—to survey the Tokaido, including the facilities and services 
offered at each post station. Based on this investigation, designated post 
stations on the Tokaido were granted official status by the bakufu with a 
policy directive to maintain 36 horses at each post station. Within a few 
years this decree was extended to post stations on all gokaido roads. 
In 1637, a decree was applied to a limited number of post stations on 
the Tokaido and Nakasendo for the requisition of “assisting horses” 
(sukeuma) from nearby villages. 

This facilitated the speediest of communication of state business with 
the Emperor’s court in Kyoto. A system of a relay of horse riders (roppara 
hikyaku), first established when the Shdgunate was based in Kamakura, 
allowed the journey to be completed in 72 hours (Moriya, 1990). During 
the Edo period the number of courier services (hikyaku) proliferated, 
such as the tsugi-bikyaku—only available high-ranking bakufu officials— 
the hikyaku tonya—commercial message-carrying services available to 
everyone else—and the toshi-bikyaku—a single runner, without relay, 
who carried a message or parcel from the sender to the addressee. 
Each daimyo established his own communication network with couriers 
(daimyo-bikyaku) taking messages between the domain and the daimyo 
residence in Ed6 and their rice warehouses in port towns. 

Subsequent policy initiatives and directives in the Edo era are 
summarised in Tables 11 to 14. In 1612, road maintenance on the gokaido 
was sheeted home as a local government (han) responsibility. Four 
years later, in order to keep road surfaces in good shape, a load limit for 
horses transporting goods was imposed at 40 kan (150 kg)—a figure that 
remained constant during the Tokugawa era. Major policy directives on 
maintaining control of movements are associated with the third Shogun, 
Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651). In 1625, the government issued an edict 
on instructions as to how travellers passing through sekisho barriers 
should behave and what information must be presented. Ten years later, 
the enactment of the Laws of the Warrior Houses prohibited sekisho 
being erected on daimyo domains. 

5. Roads 133 

Table 11. Summary of Road Policies and Regulations, 1601-1661. 
Source: Based in Vaporis, 1994: 17-174, and Notes pp. 269-331; and on 

Kodansha, 1993: 1577. 

Year Shogun Policy Initiative/Regulation 
1601 | Tokugawa | Dispatched Okubo Nagayasu (Senior Councillor) and 
Ieyasu Hikosaka Motomosa (Chief Intendant) to grant official 
status in designated post stations on the Tokaido with 
requirements to maintain 36 horses at each post station 
(within a few years decree extended to all roads on the 
1612 | Tokugawa | Directive to bakufu intendants: 1. Maintenance of road 
Ieyasu surface and digging of drainage ditches by sides of the 
road; 2. No removal of grass on road embankments; 
3. Repair of all bridges—large or small by authority of 
Directive to bakuhan: allocation of corvée extracted from 
villages along the road to repair and clean assigned 
sections of the road. 
1616 | Tokugawa | Regulations Concerning Ferry Crossings (fune watashi 
Ieyasu sadame) primarily to enforce designated crossing points. 
Load limit for horses transporting goods fixed at 40 
kan (150 kg)—a figure that remained constant during 
Tokugawa era. 
1625 | Tokugawa | Edict on instructions to travellers passing through 
Temitsu sekisho barriers 
1635 | Tokugawa _ | Laws of the Warrior Houses prohibited sekisho being 
Iemitsu erected on daimyo domains bur circumvented by 
erection of bansho barriers* 
1637 | Tokugawa | Decree for a limited number of post stations on the 
Temitsu Tokaido and Nakasend6 that “assisting horses” 
(sukeuma) be requisitioned from nearby villages 
1659 | Tokugawa | Magistrate of Road Affairs (dochii bugyo)—overseeing 
Tetsuna of the upkeep of road infrastructure and processing of 

petitions; communication policy with bakufu intendants 
(daikan) who reported on all matters pertinent 

to roads under their jurisdiction. Bakufu officials 
periodically checked to ensure approved road and 
bridge maintenance had been completed satisfactorily 
to orders. Apart from a few large bridges repaired at 
bakufu expense, most others were maintained as a cost to 
the local communities. 

134 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Year Shogun Policy Initiative/Regulation 
1661 | Tokugawa | Standardisation of travel permits (sekisho tegata or kitte) 
Ietsuna* | that had existed from the 1620s and specified personal 
details on females when applying for a permit 

# For example, Tosa had 86 bansho in the 1780s of which 62 (sakaime bansho) 
were located on its borders with Sanuki, Awa and Iyo provinces (Vaporis, 
1994: 129). Early in the Tokugawa era their purposes were military defence 
guarding potentially hostile borders and to apprehend criminals, but as peace 
and stability was established their prime purpose was to control (and tax) 
commodity flows and to prevent peasants running away. 

## Vaporis (1994: Table 7, p. 140) lists the 22 issuing authorities for each 
province, or region, for female travel permits for passage through bakufu 

In 1659, a major reform to the road sector is associated with the fourth 
Shogun, Tokugawa lesuna (1641-1680). The position of Magistrate of 
Road Affairs (dochii bugy0) was created to oversee the upkeep of roads. 
This involved the processing of petitions about issues on the state of 
roads, barriers and post stations and on communication policy with 
bakufu intendants (daikan) who reported on all matters under their 
jurisdiction. Bakufu officials periodically checked to ensure approved 
road and bridge maintenance had been completed satisfactorily to 
orders. In 1661, there was a standardisation of travel permits (sekisho 
tegata or kitte) that had existed from the 1620s and the permit contained 
specified personal details on females when they made an application 
(Table 12). 

Table 12. Summary of Road Policies and Regulations, 1687-1720. 
Source: Based in Vaporis, 1994: 17-174 and Notes pp. 269-331; and on 
Kodansha, 1993: 1577. 

Year Shogun Policy Initiative/Regulation 
1687 Tokugawa Legal documents recognise the names on the 
Tsunayoshi | gokaido 
Late Tokugawa _| Magistrate of Finance (kanjo bugyo)—previously 

17thC | Tsunayoshi | involved with administration of bakufu lands that 
included the gokaid6 and all roads not administered 
by the Magistrate of Road Affairs—joint 
administration with Magistrate of Road Affairs 

5. Roads 135 

Year Shogun Policy Initiative/Regulation 
1694 Tokugawa Genroku Reforms with universal sukego taxation 
Tsunayoshi | administered by Magistrate of Road Affairs; post 
stations were ordered to provide a specified number 
of porters and horses from designated assisting 
villages (josukego—regular assisting villages; 
osukego—auxiliary villages) 

1697 Tokugawa __| Decree that “assisting horses” (sukeuma) be 
Tsunayoshi | requisitioned from nearby villages to a post station 

1712 Tokugawa Shotoku no Chi conservative fiscal policy—Five 
Ienobu weigh stations on Tokaido and Nakasendo 

(additional weigh stations on Nikko dochi, Koshu 
dochu and Hokkoku established in 1743—to enforce 
regulations regarding load limits by appointing 
Weight Verification Officers (kanme aratamesho 

1720s Tokugawa Centralisation of administration with all intendants 
Yoshimune_ | under the responsibility of the Magistrate of Road 
Affairs who was assisted by auxiliary officers (doshin 
and yoriki) and creation of new categories of villages 
to support post stations 

From the late 17th century onwards, institutional arrangements 
changed with a joint administration involving the Magistrate of Road 
Affairs and the Magistrate of Finance. The Genroku Reforms of 1684 
ensured that the sukego taxation was administered by the Magistrate 
of Road Affairs. In the 18th century, weigh stations were introduced to 
regulate loads carried on major roads. In 1720, there was a centralisation 
of road administration with all intendants under the responsibility of 
the Magistrate of Road Affairs, who was assisted by auxiliary officers. 

In practice, during the first six decades of the Edo period, there 
were widespread discrepancies until a notice issued in 1821 by the 
Magistrate of Road Affairs reproached post stations for such breaches 
in regulations, such as non-compliance in the number of horses and 
porters. Bakufu officials periodically checked to ensure approved road 
and bridge maintenance had been completed satisfactorily to orders 
by the local governments. Apart from a few large bridges (across the 
Yahagi, Yoshida and Seta rivers), repaired at bakufu expense, most others 
were maintained at a cost to the local communities. 

136 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

From the early 19th century, many of the travel restrictions were 
eased and actions by government made road transport more enjoyable. 
Maps were produced and sold to travellers using the gokaid6 (Table 
13). The roadside environment was improved through horticultural 
measures such as tree planting. By mid-century, man-powered carts 
were allowed between sections of the Nakasendo. In 1862, The free use 
of wheeled vehicles and small carts on all roads was legal. With the 
restoration of the Meiji Emperor in 1868, both post stations and sukego 
fees were abolished. 

Table 13. Summary of Road Policies and Regulations, 1800-1868. 
Source: Based in Vaporis, 1994: 17-174 and Notes pp. 269-331; and on 
Kodansha, 1993: 1577. 

Year Shogun Policy Initiative /Regulation 
1803 Tokugawa Survey of gokaido for the purpose of making road 
Tenari maps. 

Magistrate of Road Affairs orders replanting of 
old or dying road-side trees with seedlings and 
removing roots and vines from roadway. 

Early Private Introduction of alms huts (segyo-sho) on difficult 
19th C initiatives stretches of road 
1849 Tokugawa Man-powered carts (ita guruma) allowed between 

Government | Tarui and Imasu on Nakasendo but size and 
number were regulated. By 1860 there were about 

3,500 carts. 
1862 Tokugawa Free use of wheeled vehicles and small carts on all 
Yoshiyori roads 
1868 Meiji Abolition of post stations and sukego systems 


Institution of Edo Post Stations 

The Tokaido had 53 post stations between Edo and Kyoto: a metaphor 
for the pilgrimage journey that the Indian Buddhist acolyte Sudhana 
took on his quest for enlightenment and studies under 53 guidance of 
“good friends” who directed him towards the Way to Enlightenment. 
Today, any traveller in Japan can gain an appreciation of the streetscapes 
of the Edo period and buildings in post stations because the Japanese 

5. Roads 137 

government has provided financial aid for the preservation and 
maintenance of koedd—a designated “town retaining old townscapes 
with the feeling of Edo” (Sato et al., 2011). 

The Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings 
system is designated by any municipality based on the national Law for 
the Protection of Cultural Properties (implemented in 1975). Similarly, 
the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism established 
the Historical Street Projects in 1982 with subsidies to maintain districts 
and roads as urban planning projects in designated areas where distinct 
historical townscapes and sites remain. The broad aims of these policies 
are to increase tourism and generate money for the local economy. 

One good example of such a town is Kawagoe City, located about 30 
km north-west of central Toky6, with its development of a kurazukuri 
(traditional storehouse) street landscape. Soon after the Great Fire of 
Kawagoe in 1893 merchants paid for the construction of storehouses 
with thick, fire-resistant clay mortar walls, and historical street 
landscapes gradually were created. In the Taisho period (1912-1926), 
many western-style buildings for merchant houses and banks were 
developed to create a street landscape in which kurazukuri buildings are 
in harmony with western-style buildings. In 1990, Kawagoe City began 
its historical district environment development project. Its historical 
townscape (Ichibangai-dori, Kanetsuki-dori, Kyushigimachi-dori, 
Kashiya-yokoch6) was designated in 1999 as an “Important Preservation 
District for Groups of Traditional Buildings”. 

Post stations were a Tokugawa government business monopoly where 
their operating costs were borne by the han provincial government and 
the taxation income provided an important source of revenue to the 
Tokugawa coffers. Post stations were officially designated so as to limit 
their proliferation. Most post station managers were of warrior lineage 
and were often heads of villages and/or operators of the honjin inns that 
were reserved for travellers on official government business. Honjin inns 
were the largest and the most impressive building in the post station 
(Vaporis, 1994: footnote 14, p. 273). Stipends to post station managers, 
and to the messenger relay service, were paid by local intendants out of 
local taxation rice. 

Tokugawa government-sanctioned post stations on major highways 
provided refreshments, lodgings for different classes of traveller, food 
and other places a traveller may visit. Regulations issued in 1637, and 

138 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

again in 1694 (sukego), specified the number of horses and porters to be 
provided at each post station. For example, at the Oiwake post station 
(at the intersection of the Nakasend6 and the Hokkoku-Kaid6, today 
Karuizawa) the annual number of porters and horses used for official 
transport in 1702 were 2,310 and 4,335, respectively, rising to 14,741 
and 18,197 in 1830 before reaching a peak in 1858 of 19,648 porters and 
17,324 horses (Vaporis, 1994, Table 3, p. 73). 

After the early 1640s, regulations fixed the resources of the post 
stations so that no expansion of the system was possible, and, indeed, 
some post stations failed to provide the stipulated number of horses 
and porters. Instead, sukegd levies involved “assisting villages” who 
provided additional post station horses and porters during times of 
high traffic demand? and this caused contention and confrontation that 
was resolved by the Magistrate of Road Affairs (Vaporis, 1994: 82-97). 

Post towns had inns and taverns well-staffed with meishimori, the rice 
serving waitresses allotted to individual male customers. After bathing 
the customer on arrival, meishimori served food, enjoyed banter over 
dinner then offered sex for a fee (Bornoff, 1991: 149). Inns at the relaying 
post stations had become indistinguishable from houses of prostitution. 
For example, at Shinagawa post station in 1844 the regulations permitted 
five hundred prostitutes, but eye-witness accounts suggest that there 
were almost three times that number of women offering sexual services 
(Vaporis, 1994: 81). During the Ed6 era, there were short periods when 
the Tokugawa government outlawed prostitution on moral grounds, but 
it was difficult to enforce, and, importantly, was a source of revenue to 
the government so regulations became lax. The bakufu taxed prostitutes’ 
incomes: in the mid-19th century, this taxation amounted to about 7 per 
cent of the post station incomes along the Tokaido (Vaporis, 1994: 81). 

Whilst such services at the government-sanctioned post stations 
represented the emergence of a service economy under a national 
government monopoly, there was one organisation that did attempt 
to control the moral behaviour of those lodging in post stations. An 
organisation called Naniwa Ko established a chain of inns with a brand 

4 The contribution from assisting villages for horses and porters increased from 
about 3 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, in 1819 to about 18 per cent and 83 
per cent in 1861 using the post station of Shinagawa as an example (Vaporis, 1994: 

5. Roads 139 

advertising that its member inns did not provide prostitutes so as to 
ensure “tired travellers got a good night sleep” (Sheldon, 1958: footnote 
50, p. 15). 

Constraints on Travel 

The most restrictive policy involving the road system on the movement 
of daimyo and samurai was the sankin-tokai (alternate year attendance 
system)—introduced in 1635 as part of the Law of Warrior Houses 
reform that required the tozama (“outside” daimyo) and their household 
retainers (typically 150 to 300 people) to spend an equal time in Ed6 
and in their domains (Vaporis, 1997). Female members of a daimyo 
family were kept hostage in Edo. Thus, the lords had to maintain two 
households and this expenditure amounted to 70-80 per cent of their 
income (Kodansha, 1993: 1311). The designated route from the domain 
followed a road on the gosend6 and the overnight stays of a large 
number of retainers at the post stations were an additional expense, and 
a source of revenue to the bakufu. 

In order to control the movement of peasants, the Tokugawa bakufu 
issued strict regulations and implemented the issue of travel permits 
in association with the regional daimyds (provincial government) that 
had to be shown at the toll barriers. The provincial daimyds also had 
an economic reason to impose travel restrictions on their peasants: 
absenteeism, especially during the harvest season. It meant a loss of 
productivity and hence income to the daimyos. Even when travel was 
permitted transport services were in short supply and it was expensive. 

The bakufu could have generated more income by raising transport 
fees, but it remained unwilling to close the gap between the fixed rates 
that remained below the negotiated rates at market value. As of 1711, 
fees became the base rate and subsequent government directives were 
expressed as a percentage increase. Derived from data in Vaporis (1994, 
Table 4, p. 82), Table 14 shows the indicative changes in transport costs 
in mon during the Edo period for the hire of one horse, for one porter 
and for a light load for a pack horse (either for a rider with up to 20 kilos 
luggage, or, for 71 kilos of luggage without a rider). Hire of a horse was 
twice as expensive as the hire of a porter. 

140 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Table 14. Indicative Costs (in mon*) of Transport From 1606 to 1868—The 
Oikawa Post Station. 
Source: based on Vaporis, 1994, Table 4, p. 82; and author’s calculation. 

Year One Horse One Porter Light Load 
1606 42 N/a N/a 
1643 32 16 23 
1666 38 19 24 
1681 55 N/a N/a 
1690 41 21 27 
1711 49 25 32 
1815 71 36 46 
1863 100 49 62 
1868 379 191 248 

*—Inflated to 2020 prices, the value of 1 mon in 1868 was approximately 
0.0000048 cents 

Coins denominated in mon were cast in copper or iron and circulated 
alongside silver and gold ingots (with denominations of 4,000 mon = 
16 shu = 4 bu = 1 ryo). The financial system in early-modern Japan is 
known as sanka seido (the triple standard system) where different types 
of coin of varying quality were in circulation along with gold, silver and 
paper money (Ohkura and Shimbo, 1978; Tagaki, 2018). With the New 
Currency Act of 1871, the official rate in Japan was expressed as 1 yen 
equalling 10,000 mon. On international markets, the yen was valued at 
USS. $0.048 (0.97 cents in 2020 prices). 

Samurai travelled on horseback. Members of the upper classes 
travelled by a covered palanquin (kago) suspended from a long pole 
that was carried on two men’s shoulders. The standard method of travel 
for peasants was on foot, as wheeled carts were almost non-existent. 
Women were forbidden to travel alone: men had to accompany them. 
Other restrictions were also put in place for travellers, but, whilst severe 
penalties existed for violating various travel regulations, and many 
women disguised themselves as men, bakufu enforcement remained 
haphazard. Gradually, transport services developed with increased 
personal safety for walkers, and the adoption, even by commoners, of 
palanquins and rental horses. 

5. Roads 141 

Coastal shipping, rivers and canals were the main means to 
transport heavy cargoes as road haulage was far too expensive. Some 
commodities, such as woven silk and sake, could be transported easily 
in a cart. However, most crops, such as taxation rice, were harvested 
in such great volumes that a caravan of packhorses or carts across the 
rough and dangerous roads was impractical. 


The only feasible way for ordinary people to travel was for them to obtain 
a travel permit and to go ona pilgrimage. Pilgrimages to famous temples 
and shrines have a long history in Japan. Of the countless temples and 
shrines scattered throughout the country, Ise (Mie Prefecture), with 
its inner shrine (constructed in the 3rd century) and its outer shrine 
(constructed in the 5th century) has been a premier pilgrimage 
destination from the 10th century onwards. Ise Shrine is mentioned in 
the Man’yoshu, an 8th century anthology of poems. The shrine is etched 
into the Japanese psyche because, according to legend, the daughter 
of the Suinin (the 11th legendary Emperor), Princess Yamatohime, 
searched throughout Japan for a site to house the sacred mirror (yata 
no kagagami) until the voice of the spirit Amaterasu Omikami instructed 
her to locate the shrine at Ise. 

During the 15th century, and in what may be classed as advertising 
by a religious institution, lower ranking clerics of Ise Shrine (dshi— 
literally, master) went around provinces proselytising, collecting funds, 
and emphasising that seven pilgrimages to Ise Shrine guaranteed 
eternal salvation (Kodansha, 1993: 628). In the Muromachi period, an 
organisation of special guides (sendatusu) began leading masses of 
pilgrims to Ise, resulting in lodgings springing up along the roads to 
the shrine. 

However, it was only during the Edo period that mass tourism 
exploded as a social phenomenon. The desire to make a pilgrimage to Ise 
Shrine, at least once in a lifetime, was universal amongst Japanese men of 
the day. Upon returning home from their long trip, the pilgrims passed 
out souvenirs to their fellow villagers, and, no doubt, bragged about 
the things they had seen and heard on the journey. By the early 19th 
century, nearly every village in Japan had confraternities that annually 

142 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

sent pilgrims to Ise. Separate associations were organised for each of the 
most popular deities, such as Jiz6 (a bodhisattva known as the saviour 
of children), Fud6 My66 (an incarnation of Buddha tasked with saving 
those resistant to Buddhist teachings) and Inari (a fox deity associated 
with the harvest). In addition, private businesses were established that 
specialised in helping pilgrims find lodging throughout Japan. 

Inns that took in commoners sprouted up. At Ise, people engaged 
in this business were known as onshi. The meals served to the guests 
at onshi houses were lavish and were washed down with high-quality 
sake. They provided lodgings, hosted pilgrims at prayers, conducted 
ceremonies and played Shinto music and organised dancing. After 
paying their respects at Ise Shrine, pilgrims headed off to the pleasure 
quarters of the Furuichi district, where banquets known as shojin otoshi 
were held for them. Afterwards, for a fee, the pilgrims were entertained 
with singing, dancing and prostitutes. According to Susuki (n.d.: n.p.) 
“this blend of spirituality and entertainment, of the sacred and the 
worldly, was a defining feature of travel in the Edo period.” 

Private enterprise soon exploited the business opportunities from 
pilgrims (Suzuki, n.d.). Located on the road that ran between the Inner 
Shrine and Outer Shrine areas, the village of Furuichi grew mainly as 
a result of the demand from pilgrims for places to eat meat following 
long periods of abstinence, to drink and to stay the night. Beginning 
in the early decades of the Edo period, there developed a small yitkaku 
(red light district), consisting of six teahouses, which grew larger and 
more prominent over the course of the Edo period. By the Hoei era 
(1704-1711), there were 162 courtesans and 60 teahouses. This grew 
to 70 prominent teahouses and 1,000 courtesans, and three or four 
playhouses, by the Kansei era (1789-1801). 

Data compiled by Suzuki (n.d.) suggests Ise Shrine drew on average 
from 200,000 to 400,000 pilgrims annually, each staying 4-5 days, with 
that pilgrimage total reaching about a million in some years. Mass 
pilgrimages by men and women of all ages occurred in Japan roughly 
once every sixty years and were usually triggered by news of miraculous 
events suchas “amulets falling from the sky” (Suzuki, n.d.). Participants 
received alms along the way. The first okage mairi took place in 1650, 
and the tradition carried on for roughly the next two hundred years, 
dying out with the last okage mairi in 1867. Mass pilgrimages are known 
to have taken place in 1705, 1771 and 1830, when the shrine received 

5. Roads 143 

concentrated bursts of 3 million, 2 million, and 5 million visitors, 

Highway Administration in the Modern Period 

The Home Ministry (Naimushd) was established in November 1873 
(abolished in December 1947 by the Allied Occupation Forces). A 
Department of Public Works was included within this portfolio. The 
Japanese Government did not see roads as an investment priority given 
the public works priorities of railway construction and industrialisation 
(Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2021). 
When Yamagata Aritomo was appointed in 1883 as Head of the Home 
Ministry, he created bureaux for general administration and budget, 
local government, police, public health, topographical surveys, census, 
religious institutions and public works. 

The first general regulation for roads is found in the 1876 Law on Road 
Classification, although its enforcement was sporadic. In 1909 (Japan’s 
population was 45.5 million), there were only 61 motor cars registered 
with the Home Ministry. In comparison, in 1911 (population 49.8 
million), there were approximately 1.8 million goods wagons, 172,000 
horse-drawn carts, 144,000 jinrikisha, 36,000 ox carts and 9,000 horse- 
drawn carriages (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 87). A census of motor cars 
and trucks taken in 1920 (population 55.5 million) showed there were 
still only 7,912 motor cars and trucks throughout the country (Steele, 
2016: 88). 

The road classification of 1876 specified national, prefectural, town 
and village roads where road widths were specified for the latter 
two categories. From 1881 to 1900, the annual public expenditure on 
roads amounted to 7 million yen and from 1901 to 1916 expenditure 
increased three-fold (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 87). The Highway Law of 
1919 established regulations for roads and a classification scheme on the 
respective widths, gradients and curvatures, and regulations for bridge 
construction. Data from the Department of Home Affairs, Public Works 
Bureau, reveal that in 1920 the government authorised 282.8 million yen 
over a 30-year period for road improvements (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 

5 In 2013, the number of visitors to Ise Shrine passed 10 million—the first time since 
1896 when counts were first taken (Japan Times, 20 December 2013). 

144 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

87). The plan involved the construction of new highways and bridges, 
specifically for motorised vehicles, and the paving of national and 
prefectural roads. 

In 1932, the First Five-Year Highway Construction Plan was 
published calling for the construction of 9,809 km of national highways 
by 1936. The Second Plan for 1937 to 1941 proposed the construction 
of an additional 13,268 km. By 1939, only 37 per cent of the planned 
national road network had been constructed (Table 15). The concept of 
expressways first appeared in a government document in 1943, when the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs published a National Automobile Highway 
Plan of 5,490 km, influenced by the concept of German Autobahns, but 
the plan was abandoned in 1944 (Shibayama, 2017). 

Table 15. Road Network Length in Kilometres by Classification and by 
Year, Japan 1925-1939. 
Source: based on World Engineering Congress, Publications Committee, 
1929: 87; and Steele, 2016, footnote 27, p. 99. 

Road Classification 1925 1933 1939 
National Roads 8,228 8,146 8,617 
Prefectural Roads 93,094 99,257 114,466 
Municipal Roads 17,648 n/a n/a 
Town and Village Roads 920,220 n/a n/a 

By 1940, less than 2 per cent of all roads were paved. On the national 
highway system only 18.6 per cent of the network of 8,600 km was paved 
(Steele, 2016: 90). Steele (2016: 90-95) suggests several reasons for this 
shortfall in construction and points the finger at the rise of the military 
influence in government circles and the dream of a Japanese-dominated 
pan-East Asia. Japanese bureaucrats and military advisors placed priority 
on improving railways in Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria, including the 
grandiose scheme of building a high-speed railway, dangan ressha (bullet 
train), connecting Tokyo with Shimonoseki (the westernmost tip of 
Honshu on the Kanmon Straits that separate Kytishi), then, by way of 
an under-sea tunnel, to South Korea and finally onto other destinations 
in China and Southeast Asia. 

5. Roads 145 

Highway Administration Post-1945 

As part of Japan’s post-Pacific War reconstruction, a memorandum 
from the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in 1948 
introduced a five-year road plan to replace the German Autobahn-style 
highway planning in vogue during the early 1940s (Muto, 2008). The 
state of the highway network can be judged from the following statistics. 
In the 1950s, of the 140,657 km of national highways and prefectural 
roads, only 15 per cent had two or more lanes and only 5.4 per cent were 
paved; and 47 per cent of all the bridges were wooden (David, 2014: 
18). At the 1952 census, less than 6 per cent of the national highways 
and prefectural roads in Japan were paved; bicycles accounted for 87 
per cent of registered vehicles, other slow modes of transport (horse and 
ox-carts and handcarts) accounted for 7 per cent and private motor cars 
accounted for only 6 per cent (Black and Rimmer 1981: 30). 

In 1952, the Law Concerning Special Measures for Highway Construction 
(SMHC Law) was enacted which provided loans from a Trust Fund in 
the Ministry of Finance to construct roads and it authorised the collection 
of tolls from users to repay the loan. This also gave rise to a new road 
administration with the Road Law (as amended in 1952). The Law for 
Temporary Measures Concerning the Source of Funds for the Improvement 
of Roads 1953 was passed into legislation and this prescribed that the 
government should establish five-year road improvement programs 
from 1954 onwards. In 1953, a petrol tax of 54 per cent of its retail 
price was also introduced to accelerate the road construction program. 
Earmarked funds for road improvement were also introduced in 1954 
and expanded as a major fund-raising channel for road construction 
and maintenance at both national and regional levels. 

As noted by Black and Rimmer (1981), the first five-year plan had a 
strong American influence due to the involvement of specialists led by 
Dr Ralph Watkins who had been invited by the Japanese government to 
consider the economic feasibility of an expressway linking Nagoya with 
Kobe. In his report, Watkins commented on “the sorry state of roads” 
in Japan—referring in part to the fact that only about a quarter of even 
first-class national roads, and only two-thirds of the National Highway 
Route 1 connecting Toky6 and Osaka, were paved. The Watkins Report 
stressed the importance of roads as social overhead capital and their 

146 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

crucial role in economic growth. It also introduced the concept of road 
traffic demand analysis and methods of estimating traffic diversion from 
existing roads to newly-constructed roads. 

The Nihon Doro Kodan (Japan Highway Public Corporation) was 
established by law in April 1956. The Japan Highway Public Corporation 
was legally a non-profit government corporate entity established for the 
purpose of construction and management of expressways and ordinary 
toll roads that covered national motorways, regional motorways, 
including toll tunnels and toll bridges, car parks and service areas. The 
Corporation was neither directly within the government nor completely 
outside state control. 

Such institutional positioning worked effectively to maintain 
consistency with nationwide development strategies. The Japan 
Highway Public Corporation also enjoyed some privileges offered by 
the national government that included: exemption from corporation tax; 
compulsory collection of tolls and other charges related to expressway 
operations; power of compulsory purchase of land and of administrative 
enforcement through the Land Acquisition Law; and loans from the 
government, bond placement to government funds and government 
guarantee of bonds. 

One of its first tasks was to review the Watkins’ study and it 
published its own report (Japan, Nihon Doro Kodan, 1957) that 
formed the foundation of an International Bank for Reconstruction and 
Development (World Bank) appraisal of toll roads (Kapur et al., 1997). 
The revised Special Measures for Highway Construction Law was repealed 
with the Japan Highway Public Corporation taking over responsibility 
from the Ministry of Construction to construct a national highway tolled 
network and to collect the road user revenues. These developments, and 
the start of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development 
funding for highway projects,’ allowed American engineers to influence 
highway design and construction in Japan—albeit scaling back road 
widths. This led to the creation of a Japanese version of the Highway 
Capacity Manual (U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, 1950) that was used to 
standardise expressway design. 

6 The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) has lent 
funds to numerous JHPC projects since the 1960s: all repayments were made by 

5. Roads 147 

National motorways have developed steadily and rapidly since 
1957 when the Japan Highway Public Corporation (JHPC) received 
authorisation from the national government to construct its first 
expressway, the Meishin (Nagoya—Kobe) Expressway. The Meishin 
Expressway was the first to open in 1963, linking Ritto (Shiga 
Prefecture) with Amagasaki (Hy6dgo Prefecture)—a distance of 71 km. 
The Japan Highway Public Corporation undertook surveys, designed 
expressways and toll roads and oversaw their construction. The Tomei 
Expressway was the second to open with partial service in April 1968, 
with the completed route between Tokyo and Nagoya (347 km) being 
operational on 26 May 1969. 

The Watkins Report also triggered a flurry of additional highway 
legislation providing for national expressways, national toll roads, 
revised funding arrangements (government bonds, grants to 
prefectures) and metropolitan expressways, such as the National 
Development Longitudinal Expressway Construction Law—the National 
Expressway Law enacted 1957; the Metropolitan Expressway Public 
Corporation Law (1957); and the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation 
Law (1959). 

The activities of the Japan Highway Public Corporation expanded 
in 1966 when the National Development Arterial Expressway Construction 
Law was enacted to provide a comprehensive construction plan covering 
7,600 km of national expressways. In 1972, the Consultative Council on 
Roads for the Minister of Construction implemented a nation-wide toll 
pool, whereby revenue was pooled from all expressways to provide a 
single source of operating funds. 

In 1987, the National Development Arterial Expressway Construction 
Law was revised, where the Japanese government approved expanding 
the expressway network (through the Fourth Comprehensive National 
Development Plan) to 11,520 km together with 2,480 km of access- 
controlled national highways, where a map of this system as of April 
2018 may be found at 
policies/p1_1_1.jpg. With the revision of the Law came inefficiencies, 
welfare loss and a mounting debt, because the newly planned routes 
of 3,920 km incurred high construction costs and only low projected 
traffic volumes to provide revenue (Kimura and Maeda 2005: 9). The 
tolls were revised in 1989 and again in 1994. The redemption principle 

148 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

was re-organised by extending the redemption period, initially from 30 
years to 40 years, and, eventually, to 50 years. 

Prime Minister Koizumi Junchir6 established the Committee for 
Promoting Privatization of Four Highway-related Public Corporations 
that were responsible for the construction and management of highways 
in Japan: the JHPC (1956); the Metropolitan Expressway Public 
Corporation (1959); the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation (1962); 
and the Honshti—Shikokt Bridge Authority (1970). In December 2002, 
the committee’s final opinion report recommended an organisational 
reform based on the principle of vertical unbundling, where highway 
service companies would provide services to an infrastructure holding 

The Privatization Bill was passed in the Diet in June 2004. Privatisation 
of highways was based on the following acts: the Expressway Company 
Law; the Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency Law 
(JEHDRA); the Law Regarding the Development of Highway-Related Laws 
in Connection with the Privatization of the Japan Highway Public Corporation; 
and the Act for Enforcement of Acts Related to Privatization of the Japan 
Highway Public Corporation Road Bureau, Ministry of Land Infrastructure 
(Road Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 
2018: 7). 

There are two key elements to the Privatization Bill (Mizutani and 
Uranishi, 2006). First, six specific joint-stock highway corporations 
(one-third government owned) would have the power to veto highway 
construction, although the Panel on Infrastructure Development would 
make the final decision on whether to proceed or not. Secondly, an 
independent administrative agency, the Japan Expressway Holding 
and Debt Repayment Agency (JEHDRA) was established to function as 
an asset-holding and debt-servicing public organisation with a sunset 
clause. The JEHDRA took over both the assets and the debts held by the 
former highway-related public corporations, and then leased the assets 
to the six expressway companies that would then collect tolls from each 
expressway and pay back the JEHDRA with the agreed lease fee such 
that once the repayment is completed by 2050, the agency would be 

With a recognition of a declining national population, and that 
land transport networks were largely mature, road administration 
was placed within a new “super” ministry, the Ministry of Land, 

5. Roads 149 

Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). It was established as 
part of administrative reforms on 6 January 2001 with the merging of 
the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Construction, the National 
Land Agency and the Hokkaido Development Agency. Of all Ministries 
in Japan, it has the greatest number of employees. It is in charge of the 
comprehensive and systematic use of national land, development and 
conservation, infrastructure development, implementation of transport 
policies and maritime safety and security. In addition to its policy 
functions, the Ministry contains transport departments for ports and 
harbours, maritime, roads, railways and civil aviation. 

Together with regional public corporations, NPOs and other citizens’ 
groups, the Japanese government aims to enhance the administrative 
management of roads. In order to achieve more effective, efficient and 
transparent road administration, Japan has promoted a result-oriented 
administrative management for roads (Road Bureau, Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2018: 19). 

Today, bicycles are ubiquitous in urban areas and country towns 
and villages. Growing steadily from a base of about 3 million bicycles 
in 1920 (Koike, 1991: Figure 1, p. 41), Koike points out that the bicycle 
ownership rate has always been higher than the car ownership rate and 
laments that, in 1988, the length of exclusive bicycle paths represented 
only 0.13 per cent of the road network. The revised Road Traffic Act of 
1981 permitted bicycles to share the sidewalk with pedestrians. Writing 
in the early 1990s, Koike (1991: 44) suggests that the bicycle “has not 
been accepted as a legitimate mode of transport in the Japanese transport 

It was not until December 2016 that the Bicycle Use Promotion Act 
was adopted with the establishment of the “Bicycle Use Promotion 
Headquarters” within the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport 
and Tourism (Road Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport 
and Tourism, 2018: 25). In 2020, there were some 69.1 million bicycles 
registered (the registration fee is approximately 500 yen) in Japan. 

The principles underpinning this institutional interest in bicycles 
as a transport mode are that they contribute to the reductions in car 
dependency, in traffic congestion and in emissions. Bicycles improve 
mobility in a time of disaster and have health benefits. The main 
responsibility of the national government is to promote bicycle use in an 
integrated and systematic manner. The role of municipal governments 

150 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

is to implement realistic measures through a proper role sharing with 
the National Government. Public transport operators should aim for a 
symbiotic relationship between bicycle and public transport. Citizens 
are urged to support various bicycle-use measures implemented by the 
National and municipal governments (Road Bureau, Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2018: 25). 


A ‘national’ institution for roads in Japan has existed from ancient times, 
and, on occasion, policies have been copied from overseas experience. 
In the first place, the Yamato kings and queens learnt from the Chinese 
about road administration, especially the importance of locating post 
stations and planting shade trees. Security on the roads—initially on 
the borders with indigenous tribes, and, later, for internal control—was 
facilitated by erecting barriers that became a long-standing institution 
associated with the road network. 

Barriers on roads were first established as a government instrument 
in the Yamato State then expanded into a system of government- 
controlled barrier stations established after the Taika Reform of 645 
that were only abolished in the later part of the 19th century. They were 
essential components of road administration during the Edo period 
when Tokugawa Ieyasu designated five radial highways from Edo and 
used them to ensure firearms were not smuggled into the capital nor 
the wives of daimyo held captive smuggled out of Ed6, and that the 
movement of ordinary people was controlled through the issue of travel 

The government controlled post stations had an equally long 
history. Their prime purpose was to provide horses and porters to relay 
messages and packages. During the Edo period, accommodation and 
food services were added primarily for the daimyo and their retainers 
who travelled as part of the system of alternate year attendance in Edo. 
The costs of the operations of post stations were born by the daimyo 
domains and obligations on local villages. In addition, the bakufu levied 
taxes on each post station, including revenue derived from prostitution. 

The first formal recognition of an institution to manage roads 
can be traced to the establishment in 1659 by Tokugawa Ietsuna of a 
Magistrate of Road Affairs. The role was the overseeing of the upkeep 

5. Roads 151 

of road infrastructure, the processing of petitions and communication 
policy with the bakufu intendants who reported on all matters pertinent 
to roads under their jurisdiction. Bakufu officials periodically checked 
to ensure approved road and bridge maintenance had been completed 
satisfactorily to orders at a cost borne by local communities. 

The modern era brought about the modernisation of government 
along Western lines. The Home Ministry was established in November 
1873 (abolished in December 1947) and public works was included 
within this portfolio. However, the Japanese national government did 
not see the importance of investment in roads given other priorities and 
it was not until the post-Pacific War, and the modern democratic era, 
that highway administration mirrored countries such as the U.S.A. 

The American, Dr Ralph Watkins, was invited by the Japanese 
Government to consider the economic feasibility of the Nagoya— 
Kobe Meishin Expressway. The Watkins Report triggered a flurry of 
highway legislation providing for national expressways, national toll 
roads, revised funding arrangements (government bonds, grants to 
prefectures) and metropolitan expressways. For example, in 1956, 
the Japan Highway Public Corporation was established and took 
over responsibility from the Ministry of Construction to construct the 
national toll highway network and to collect road user tolls. 

By the beginning of the 21st century, land transport networks were 
largely mature and road administration was placed within a new “super” 
ministry: the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 
(MLIT). Administrative reforms of 6 January 2001 merged the Ministry 
of Transport, the Ministry of Construction, the National Land Agency 
and the Hokkaido Development Agency. The Ministry is in charge of the 
comprehensive and systematic use of national land, development and 
conservation, infrastructure development, implementation of transport 
policies and maritime safety and security. 

Prime Minister Kozumi Junichiro (1942—) established a committee 
on highway privatisation that recommended, in December 2002, 
organisational reform based on the principle of vertical unbundling, 
where highway service companies would provide services to an 
infrastructure holding organisation. The Privatization Bill was passed 
in the Diet in June 2004. Six joint-stock highway corporations (one-third 
government owned) were created and an independent administrative 
agency (Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency) was 

152 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

established to function as an asset-holding and debt-servicing public 

Government policies direct the services these authorities deliver, 
including budget allocations for road planning, construction and 
maintenance. The regulatory framework for the highway sector 
determines the rules that affect the everyday actions and decisions of 
businesses and citizens when going about their work, personal business 
or leisure activities. Therefore, the regulatory framework is a critical 
determinant of how the government delivers its services effectively 
(Australia, NSW Regulatory Policy Framework Review Panel, 2017). 
The functions of national and prefecture road authorities and the 
responsibilities of local government—and the way they are structured— 
are not static over time but have evolved with regulatory and policy 
reform. This will continue to be a challenge for Japan as discussed in the 
final chapter to this book. 


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6. Railways 

Just like horse-drawn carriages and sailing ships 
were taken over by trains and steamships in the 
beginning of the 19th century the latter half of the 
20th century is the age of automobiles and airplanes, 
and now the railway is on the road to extinction 

Nishida, 1977, quoted by Strobel and Straszak, 1981: 56 


In the 19th century, railways were a significant marker in the 
industrialisation of Japan with the Meiji government introducing 
Western ideas and technologies. Great Britain had been keen to exploit 
new markets for its mature domestic railway industry, and in 1869, 
the British Minister to Japan, Harry Parkes, advocated to the Japanese 
Government that railways should be constructed as a matter of urgency 
(Aoki, 1994: 28). The first line opened between Shimbashi (Tokyo) and 
Noge Kaigan, Yokohama, on 14 October 1872 under the control of the 
Ministry of Public Works. Other routes were completed in the 1870s 
until a cash strapped government allowed for the private sector to build 
and operate lines. 

At the turn of the 20th century, and during the First Sino-Japanese 
War and the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese Government realised 
the strategic functions of military transport, and, in 1906, enacted the 
Railway Nationalization Act and purchased 17 leading private railway 
companies. Japan Government Railways became a virtual monopoly 
of railway business until the Allied Occupation Forces instructed the 
Japanese Government to reorganise Japanese Government Railways as 
a public corporation (Japanese National Railways). Upon declaration 
of bankruptcy in 1987, Japanese National Railways was privatised and 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // /OBP.0281.06 

156 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

broken up into geographical divisions over a network of 23,474 km 
(Imashiro, 1995). 

Whilst the institutional trajectories of railway administration 
in Japan has mirrored international trends this chapter also places 
emphasis on high-speed rail developments (Hayashi et al., 2020). A 
new age of inter-city passenger transport was heralded by the Japanese 
with the opening in 1964 of the Tokaido Shinkansen to the extent that 
its success encouraged several nations to change their minds about the 
role of railways—“a so called ‘railway renaissance’ began in a number 
of nations” (Straszak, 1981: 49)—an international story that has been 
updated by Loo and Comtois (2015). 

The chapter summarises the external events leading to the roll 
out of early government narrow gauge railways and the role of the 
Japanese private sector in the expansion of this network. From the time 
that the main trunk railways were nationalised in 1906, the market 
was dominated by the government until 1987, when Japan National 
Railways was privatised, and the major changes in administration and 
their reasons are described. The story of private-railway development on 
even narrower gauges (782 mm) from the 1910 Light Railway Act is also 
pursued, including innovative business practices. The administration 
of municipal horse-drawn and electric tramways systems, from the late 
19th century, and urban subway systems from 1920, where both private 
and public sectors were involved, are also explained. The greatest 
technological achievements—coming almost 100 years after the Russians 
demonstrated the steam engine in Japan—has been the development 
and deployment of high-speed rail and magnetic levitation rail, and the 
final sections of this chapter describe their driving forces. 

Early Modern Period 

Early Railways 

British players dominated the early history of Japanese railways and 
its institutional arrangements, despite a number of other international 
players’ attempts at gaining influence by gifting steam engines to some 
regional daimyo late in Edo era (Free, 2008). The first railway equipment 
seen in Japan arrived with a Russian naval squadron lead by Admiral E. 

6. Railways 157 

V. Putiatin in 1853 (Kodansha, 1993: 1244). Foreigners had suggested to 
the Tokugawa Shégunate the construction of concession railways between 
Tokyo and Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe and between concession ports 
and large cities (Aoki, 1994), but no action was taken with the regime 
in chaos. 

With the establishment of the Meiji government, the British Minister 
to Japan stepped in and convened a meeting on 7 December 1869 with 
government leaders represented by Iwakura Tomomi (Vice Premier), 
Sawa Nobuyoshi (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Okuma Shigenobu 
(Vice Minister of Finance) and Ito Hirobumi (Assistant Vice Minister 
of Finance). Minister Parkes argued that railways were a symbol of 
centralised power and that railways could carry rice quickly from other 
areas to Tohoku (then suffering from another poor year for the rice 
harvest) thereby minimising the effects of famine (Aoki, 1994: 28). 

A decision was reached to build a priority line between Tokyo and 
Kobe and a branch line to Tsuruga, skirting Lake Biwa. The British 
Minister Parkes introduced to the government Horatio Nelson Lay, 
who sold railway bonds in London and who also began hiring British 
engineers to design and build railways in Japan. Lay signed a contract 
with the Meiji government at an interest rate of 12 per cent per annum 
over 10 years but the contract was abruptly terminated when the Japanese 
government discovered that Lay would make a 3 per cent margin on each 
bond sold (Aoki, 1994: 28). Instead, the Japanese Government decided 
to construct the first railway with a terminus in Tokyo (Shimbashi) and 
the other at Noge Kaigan in Yokohama—a distance of 29 km. 

In April 1870, the Japanese Government hired Edmund Morel 
(1841-1871) as its first Engineer-in-Chief. On his advice, in August 1871, 
the Ministry of Public Works was established, whose major role was 
introducing Western technology to Japan. He advised the government 
on engineering education and administration and, in April 1871, an 
engineering college (later, the Tokyo Imperial Technical University) 
opened. The Ministry of Public Works administered the railway 
expansion program with Masaru Inoue, who had studied railway and 
mining at University College London, as its first Director of Railways in 

The technical advice from British engineers was that the locomotives 
should run on the 3’ 6” (1,067 mm) narrow-gauge tracks built in 

158 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

British colonies, such as South Africa and Australia, where the density 
of traffic was relatively low. Morel’s role was to guide and supervise 
construction, to screen engineers working on the project and to 
provide guidance on the screening of foreign equipment imports. 
The hiring of foreigners for railways began in 1870 and it is of little 
surprise that the majority were British working in civil engineering, 
machinery for manufacturing, rolling stock repair and train scheduling 
and operations. The peak number of 119 in June 1874 fell afterwards, 
especially when the curtailment policy was put into effect in 1881 by 
the Japanese Government (Aoki, 1994: 30). The first shipment of ten 
tank locomotives and 58 two-axle passenger carriages manufactured in 
Britain arrived in Yokohama in September 1871. On 12 June 1872, two 
daily train services started between Shimbashi and Yokohama, with six 
daily services beginning two days later. On 14 October 1872 the Meiji 
Emperor attended the opening ceremony at Shimbashi and Yokohama 

On 25 August 1870, surveying work began between Osaka and Kobe. 
Construction included the first wrought-iron bridge and tunnel in Japan 
(running under a raised-bed river). Regular service started on 11 May 
1874. Two years later, the line had been extended to Ky6to and reached 
Otsu on Lake Biwa in 1880. This section included the 670 metre-long 
Osakayama Tunnel that was designed and built by a British engineer, 
T. R. Shervinton (Rhymer-Jones, 1881: 316). By 1890, it was possible to 
travel by rail from Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya to Shimbashi then 
transfer in Tokyo crossing by road to Ueno Station then on to Sendai in 
the north east. There were also short sections of railway on the islands 
of Hokkaido, Kyisht and Shikoku (Figure 4). 

Early Private Railways 

Private companies were major players in the early stages of railway 
development in Japan because the government faced a financial crisis 
from the rapid introduction of Western technologies (Shindo, 1954), 
such as the construction of government-run plants and factories and 
compensation for daimyo deprived of feudal privileges. Japanese 
private railways were governed by the Railway Construction Act of 1892 
that recognised the distinction between inter-city private railways 
and government-owned railways. This legal framework for private 

6. Railways 159 

railways promulgated in their articles of association that their business 
be confined to moving people. After the mid-1880s, the apparent 
profitability of railways was sufficient to attract a flood of entrepreneurs 
with 60 per cent of revenue derived from passenger traffic.’ Between 
1887 and 1906, private companies laid down 5,253 km of track compared 
to the 1,880 km by the government (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 69)—a ratio 
of 2.8 to one. 

~ Shimbashi 

Figure 4. Extent of Japanese Railway Network by 1 January 1890. 

Source: Aoki, 1994: 30, reproduced with permission. 

Private operators were not constrained in introducing innovative 
methods to encourage patronage (Saito, 1997). For example, the Iyo 
Railway on Shikoki island opened in October 1888 between Matsuhama 

1 From the fiscal year 1917-1918 to 1928-1929, railway earnings as a percentage 
of total capital ranged from 7.8 per cent to 11.6 per cent annual on government 
railways and from 6.1 per cent to 9.8 per cent on private railways (Moulton with Ko, 
1931: 73-74). 

160 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Bay and Matsuyama (Kishi, n.d. )—a distance of about 12 km—operating 
on a 762 mm gauge. It was the first private railway company in Japan to 
involve itself in the development of bathing resorts. From the 1890s, the 
company offered generous fare reductions during the summer season 
because it considered summer bathers to be its most valuable customers. 
The company formed the Baishinji Bathing Association in June 1899, 
developed a new bathing resort by the Seto Inland Sea, opened a summer 
station and started operating special trains for bathers. Soon, it provided 
related facilities, including hot baths and inns (Ogawa, 1998: 29). 

Another example of early railway entrepreneurship also occurred on 
Shikoki. When Otsuka Koreaki (1864-1928) became the manager of the 
Sanuki Railway and the Nankai Railway, he took guidance from then 
current U.S.A. management practices and installed a tearoom in the 
first-class carriage, employed young women as waitresses, introduced 
a train supervisor system and transferred much of the authority to the 
train supervisor. Financed with the help of local capital, Otsuka built the 
Takamatsu Hotel at the Takamatsu Railway terminus, and aquariums 
and other recreational facilities at both the Takamatsu and Kotohira 
terminus (Ogawa, 1998: 30). Around the same time, railway companies 
in the Kansai area grew their business by transporting tourists during 
the spring and autumn sightseeing seasons. So powerful was this 
railway branding that the region has been named the “Empire of Private 
Railways” (Miki, 2003). 

Private railway companies operated excursion trains and built 
temporary facilities on leased, publicly-owned land, such as beaches and 
riversides. For example, in August 1901, the Kyoto Railway Company 
(the present JR Sagano Line) operated a special evening train, with 
on-board performances of court music, to Arashiyama, one of Japan’s 
most famous scenic spots about 5 km from Kyoto, to catch cool breezes, 
to view a full harvest moon and to enjoy firework displays (Ogawa, 
1998: 29). Excursion trains became a fashion in the Kansai area after the 
success of the Kyoto Railway Company. 

The technological influence of American railways played a role 
during the establishment of both the Hankyd and the Hanshin Railways 
in the Kansai region. Key individuals within these corporations had 
visited cities in the U.S.A., such as New York, and decided that electric 
railways would be a good example of the power traction to adopt in 
Japan. In June 1899, the Settsu Electric Railway Company was founded 

6. Railways 161 

under the guidance of Sotoyama Shuzo. The company applied to the 
Japanese Government for permission to open a railway line between 
Kobe and Amagasaki (about 22 km), and, on approval one month later, 
changed its trading name to the Hanshin Electric Railway Company. The 
transfer of American-style, wide-gauge high-speed technology to build 
this inter-city electric railway (construction began in 1900), was directed 
by Misaki Shozo—an engineering graduate of Purdue University in the 
U.S.A.—who devised a diversified model of private railway business, 
influenced by early private railways that were active in land speculation 
in Western countries (Semple, 2009: 213-214). 

After the 17 major trunk-line railway companies disappeared after 
nationalisation, the private, short-distance electric railway companies in 
the Kansai area, such as Hanshin and Hanky, changed their articles of 
association to start the management of amusement parks to attract more 
patronage. In October 1907, the board of directors at Hanshin Electric 
Railway Company permitted leasing of land and buildings and the 
management of recreational facilities. Other companies soon followed. 

Management practices quickly evolved with railway companies first 
risking their own capital in the facilities that they leased to professional 
operators then making direct investments and managing their own 
permanent facilities. A good example of this is the Hanshin Amusement 
Park. This trend towards more business diversification occurred in 
metropolitan areas, where the number of individual shareholders on 
railway boards declined gradually and institutional investors, such as 
banks and insurance companies, emerged as the major shareholders, 
and put more pressure on increasing revenues and earnings, as detailed 
by Ogawa (1998, Table 1, p. 31). Private railway companies developed 
and operated 37 major amusement complexes between 1899 and 1924. 

One of the key innovators in the diversification of railway businesses 
was Kobayashi Inchiz6 (1873-1957). He is widely regarded in Japan and 
his story is documented in an autobiography (see Semple, 2009: 219-226 
and 410). He joined Mitsui Bank Ltd. in 1893 and helped establish the 
Mino Arima Railway Company (now Hankyt Corporation) in 1907, 
becoming its President in 1927 and chairman in 1934 (Kodansha, 
1993: 801). After the nationalisation of the Hankaku Railway (now JR 
Takarazuka Line), the board of directors took advantage of the permit 
for Hankaku to run on to Umeda in Osaka. The planned destinations 
were Mino and the famous Arima Hot Spring. On the route to the hot 

162 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

spring terminus, Takarazuka was then a modest place with only a few 
small inns and a cold spring. Kobayashi purchased reclaimed land at 
Mukogawa and opened a fashionable indoor swimming pool: it was 
a financial failure. Kobayashi covered the closed pool with planks 
and rebuilt it into a general amusement hall with 10 attractions and 
organised a performing girls chorus that has evolved into the present- 
day Takarazuka Operetta Troupe. 

Regarded as the origin of large-scale suburban housing development 
by corporations in Japan, Kobayashi initiated the development of Ikeda 
New Town (Shuntaro and Lintonbon, 2016), about 16 km from central 
Osaka. In addition, the Hankyii markets, located near the railway 
terminus in Umeda (Osaka), were opened in 1925. It eventually became 
a modern, major department store with a food basement that would be 
familiar today to any traveller to a major Japanese town. 

Kobayashi’s innovative management techniques had a significant 
effect on railway companies throughout Japan: his ideas spread to 
the Mekama Railway and Tokyu Railway and to many other railway 
companies. In 1918, Den-en Toshi Company built a “garden city” 
(Den’en chofu) west of Tokyo (Watanabe, 1980) and it was laid out 
by Busawa Eiichi along the format of an English Garden City, such 
as Letchworth that was founded in 1903. It was quickly realised that 
providing transport to its residents, who wanted to commute to central 
Toky6, was a necessity. The Tokyti Group began as the Meguro-Kamata 
Electric Railway Company in 1922. 

Government Railways 

During the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese 
War (1904-1905) the government recognised the strategic functions 
of transport and the undesirability of the private-sector control of 
national assets. Support grew for the government to control a unified 
railway network. The Chambers of Commerce in Toky6 and in Kyoto 
were strong advocates for railway nationalisation. In 1906, the Railway 
Nationalization Act was introduced to nationalise railway trunk lines, 
where the government purchased, at generous prices for the private 
sector (479,320,000 yen), 17 leading railway enterprises. From the time 
of railway nationalisation onwards, government railways became the 

6. Railways 163 

major player on the railway network that had suddenly expanded its 
route kilometres from 2,500 km to 7,150 km (mainly narrow 1,067 mm 
gauge), and a market share of less than half growing to 90 per cent. 
Japan Government Railways was a government-owned monopoly 
business. However, this investment, in the period just before the First 
World War, resulted in the government not having the funds to further 
expand the railway network into the countryside. 

Only 20 private steam railway companies continued operating 
(Terada, 2001). Generally, these companies operated short lines, and 
only four had a network of more than 50 km. In passing the Light Railway 
Act 1910 (amended 1921) the government encouraged smaller, private 
operators into the market. The government subsidised these railways 
with 5 per cent each year of their construction costs for the first 10 
years of their operations (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 70). The government 
retained the right to purchase these railways at any time. 

In 1920, as the railway network expanded, the Ministry of Railways 
was established (absorbed in 1943 under the Ministry of Transport and 
Telecommunications). Route kilometres grew at an even annual rate 
reaching about 20,000 km by 1935 (Strobel and Straszak, 1981: Figure 
4.3, p. 57). In the late 1920s, railways in Toky6 were being electrified and 
the technology spread rapidly to the main lines. Development planning 
for an urban railway network in the Tokyo metropolitan area began in 
1925. The first government approved urban railway network plan (five 
lines, 82.4 km) was published in 1925 in conjunction with plans for 
reconstruction after the great Kanto earthquake disaster of 1923. After 
that, including the latest plan of 2000, there have been nine rounds of 
planning for this urban railway network (Morichi et al., 2001). 

The Japanese Government also made a shrewd allocation of research 
and development resources in an institution that returned spectacular 
results fifty years after its establishment. In 1907, when it was called 
the Imperial Railway Agency, the government formed the Railway 
Technical Research Institute. In the mid-1930s it developed a blueprint 
for a standard gauge line (1435 mm) between Tokyo and Kyiishi and 
undertook research and development for a high-speed steam locomotive 
project (Genser and Straszak, 1981: 147-148). 

Resources for civil purposes diminished as pressures for military 
leaders curtailed railway investment, although a unified railway system 

164 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

was recognised as an essential aspect of Japan’s growing militarisation 
(Aoki et al., 2000). Nevertheless, passenger and freight traffic almost 
tripled between 1935 and 1945 (Genser and Straszak, 1981: 148). 
The Pacific War imposed obvious constraints on civilian passenger 
movements. From 1943, the national railway reduced its civilian 
passenger services, giving priority to military transport. In 1944, it 
abolished all the limited express trains, first-class carriages and dining 
and sleeping carriages. Under the Ordinance for Collection of Metals some 
railway operators were forced to remove one track from double-track 
lines, and others were forced to discontinue their business entirely, in 
order to satisfy the military demand for steel. 

Railways became obvious strategic targets for Allied bombing raids 
over Japan. The damaged tracks were quickly repaired and made 
operational. For example, some lines on the national railway network 
resumed services one-day after Tokyo was bombed, and the San’yo Main 
Line, in extraordinary circumstances, resumed services two days after the 
atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. However, the aftermath of war 
left material shortages throughout the economy, including a lack of bunker 
coal for steam engines, and, inevitably, rail services were disrupted. 

Urban Tramways 

In addition to this national railway network, there were other railways 
operating electric, horse-drawn and man-powered trains, running 
mainly on tramways (Aoki, 1995; Yuzawa, 1985). The first horse-drawn 
tramway was constructed in Toky6 in 1880 and within a few years 
most cities had a tramway. In 1890, an electric tramway experiment 
was conducted in Tokyo, although the municipal government of Kydto 
was the first to operate an electric streetcar on 1 February 1895 using 
electricity generated by the Lake Biwa Canal. Electric trams gradually 
replaced horse drawn and steam and gas propelled tramways in all 
cities. Table 16 summarises the tramway systems in the study area 
defined for this book that exist today, their date of opening and their 
network lengths. 

Under the Tramway Law of 1921, the national and local governments 
had the option to purchase tramways from the private sector. By 1932, 
83 tramways, with a total route length of 1,480 km, were operating in 67 

6. Railways 165 

Japanese cities (Utsunomiya, 2004: 10)—with the horse-drawn systems 
earning twice as much from their freight business as from receipts from 
passengers (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 79). 

Table 16. Urban Tramways in the Study Area in the Modern Period. 
Source: based on Utsunomiya, 2004, Table 1, p. 1. 

Tram System Opened Length Operator 
Tokyo, Den’en chofu_| 1907 5.0 Tokya Corporation 
Kyoto, Arashiyama 1910 7.2 Arashiyama Electric Tram 
Tokyo, Arakawa 1911 12:2 TMG Transportation 
Osaka 1911 18.7 Hankai Tramway 
Gifu 1911 23.9 Meitetsu 
Matsuyama 1911 9.6 Iyo Railway 
Otsu 1912 21.6 Keihan Electric Railway 
Toyama 1913 6.4 Toyama Chiho Railway 
Kyoto, Kitano 1925 3.8 Kyoto Dento 
Toyohashi 1925 5.4 Toyohashi Railway 
Fukui 1933 21.4 Fukui Railway 
Urban Subways 

In August 1920, a private venture—the Tokyo Underground Railway 
Company—was_ established. Construction between Ueno and 
Asakusa—a distance of 2.2 km—commenced. This first subway line in 
Japan opened on 30 December 1927. In 1939, a through service from 
Asakusa to Shibuya commenced, with arrangements made with the 
Tokyo Rapid Railway Company. Two years later, the Teito Rapid Transit 
Authority (Teito Kosokudo Kotsii Eidan) was created (Tokyo Metro, 2020). 
Osaka City was the first municipal government in Japan to manage 
an underground railway—the Midosuji Line between Umeda and 

166 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Modern Democratic Period 

Governance Model—Government Railways 

The Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications was reorganised 
in 1945 when the Ministry of Transport was re-established. Japan’s 
government railways were operated by the Ministry of Transport’s 
Railway Department up until June 1949 when an entirely new institution 
for railway governance was imposed on the Japanese. Post-war Japan was 
run by the Allied Occupation Forces. A letter from General MacArthur 
dated 22 July 1948 instructed the Japanese Government to reorganise 
Japanese Government Railways as a public corporation called Japanese 
National Railways (JNR) which commenced business on 1 June 1949 
(Imashiro, 1995). 

The public corporation model was little understood by railway 
managers and it did not suit Japanese business culture. According 
to Okada (2010: 1), “rampant capital expenditure and irresponsible 
management” caused Japan National Railways to sink further into 
debt, with the inevitability of railway privatisation. Upon declaration of 
bankruptcy in 1987 (Saito, 1989), JNR was privatised and broken up into 
the West Japan Railway Company, the Central Japan Railway Company, 
the East Japan Railway Company, the Kyisht Railway Company, the 
Shikokai Railway Company and Hokkaido Railway Company. All 
these companies operated narrow gauge and international standard 
gauge railways (Shinkansen, high-speed rail except on Shikokti) over a 
network of 23,474 km. 

While the division of operations began in April of 1987, privatisation 
was not immediate: initially, the government retained ownership of 
the companies. Privatisation of some of the companies began in the 
early 1990s (Mizutani, 2000). By 2006, all of the shares of JR East, JR 
Central and JR West had been offered to the market, and, today, they 
are publicly traded. On the other hand, all of the shares of JR Hokkaido, 
JR Shikoka, JR Kyishi and JR Freight are still owned by the Japan 
Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency, which is an 
independent administrative state institution. Another nearly 3,400 km of 
routes are operated by the major private railways. These are known in 
Japan as “third sector railways’”—new companies, financed with private 

6. Railways 167 

and local government funds that absorbed some of Japanese National 
Railways’ rural lines. 

The structure of a typical railway governance model, in the form of 
a hierarchical flow diagram, can be ascertained from company reports 
(Central Japan Railway Company, 2019: 40). JR-Central’s Board of 
Directors is composed of 18 members (including three outside directors) 
and chaired by the company chairman. JR Central also employs an 
auditor system, and its Audit and Supervisory Board consists of 
five members (four of whom are outside auditors). JR-Central has 
appropriate accounting audits made by an audit corporation and by 
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC. A Management Meeting is held ahead 
of the monthly Board of Directors meeting for in-depth discussion 
of important management issues. Chaired by the president, the 
Management Meeting is attended by all full-time directors, Audit and 
Supervisory Board members and some corporate officers. 

Whereas the separation of the ownership of infrastructure and 
operations has become common in Europe, in Japan, railway companies 
develop rolling stock, structures, track, electrical and signalling, manage 
operations and maintenance. The companies promote many affiliated 
businesses through its subsidiaries to maximise operating and flexibility, 
such as coach transportation, merchandise and food, real estate and 
other services such as hotels and travel tours. 

Taking the JR-Central railway network (Figure 5) as an example 
as it covers most of this book’s study area, its market area represents 
23.7 per cent of the country’s land area but contains, in 2019, about 60.6 
per cent of national population and almost two-thirds (65.5 per cent) 
of prefectural GDP. The railway network is comprised of the 552.6 km 
Tokaido Shinkansen and twelve narrow-gauge lines of 1,418.2 km. For 
the year ended 31 March 2012, 85.4 per cent of revenue comes from the 
high-speed line, 8.2 per cent from other railways, 5.7 per cent from other 
railway revenues (track usage fees, land leasing fees at stations, usage 
fees from store operators at stations and advertising) with less than one 
per cent coming from other businesses (Central Japan Railway Company, 
2012: 4). As would be expected during the Covid-19 global pandemic, 
its Annual Report ending June 2020 showed “comprehensive income” 
as 87 per cent of the previous year—and with a stability in the revenue 
streams similar to 2012 as reported above (https://global.jr-central. announcement/2020/_pdf/2020_08.pdf). 

168 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

> Operating Area 

JR Central operates the Tokaido Shinkansen, the 
main transportation artery linking Tokyo, Nagoya, 
and Osaka, and a network of 12 conventional lines 

centered on the Nagoya and Shizuoka City areas. 
Q 500km 

‘Area of Japan: Approx. 380,000km: 
Population: 127 milion 
(As ot January 1, 2020) 

a es Tokyo 
JR-CENTRAL meme Shinkansen —— (neta 
ee oo Shin-Os 





Operating Kilometers by line 

Tokaido Shinkansen 552.6km 

ntional Lines 


© Shingu 

I Line Total 1,418.2km. 
Total 1,970.8km 

Figure 5. Central Japan Railway Network of Shinkansen and Other Lines, June 2019. 
Source: Central Japan Railway Company, 2019: 48. All rights reserved. 


International competitiveness for freight and logistics is a pressing 
issue for Japan. In 2011, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport 
and Tourism formulated its policy on international container port 
strategy that promotes international competition through the creation 
of tactical ports (for example, the “Keihin” ports of Kawasaki, Tokyo 
and Yokohama and the “Hanshin” ports of Osaka and Kobe). Much of 

6. Railways 169 

the freight volume passes through ports on the Sea of Japan side that 
entails expensive domestic landside transport costs (together with road 
traffic incidents and the declining numbers of long-distance truck drives 
where the average age has exceeded 50 years). 

To make ports in Eastern Japan more competitive, a more efficient 
nation-wide feeder transport system (road and rail) is required 
(Yamaguchi, 2011). For example, between 1998 and 2010, JR Freight 
(Yoshizawa, 2012) operated a dedicated rail service for sea containers 
between Yokohama Honmoku Station (on the Kanagawa Coastal Rail 
Line Company) and Sendai Port station (on the Sendai Coastal Rail Line 
Company). Foreign trade and inter-modal freight to selected regions 
of Japan involves JR 12-foot containers and international 20-foot and 
40-foot containers. With rail freight operations running to schedule, 
it is possible to adhere to the loading program for export vessels in 
ports. With rail and sea modes integrated there is an environmental 
benefit with reduced carbon dioxide emission compared to air cargo. 
Furthermore, government reforms of domestic container distribution 
have allowed JR Freight to develop a business model for the feasibility 
of transporting bonded containers on round trips (Yoshizawa, 2012). 

Governance Model—Private Railways 

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism classifies 
private railways into different groups. Fifteen of the most important 
companies are classified as major private railways. One serves Nagoya, 
one serves Fukuoka and the rest are all in Toky6 and Osaka. Some other 
railways operating in or near large metropolitan centres are classified as 
quasi-major private railways but there are no clear distinctions between 
these railways and major private railways (Terada, 2001). 

It is instructive to compare the governance structures of private 
railways during the period that JNR ran at a loss and were privatised 
in the 1980s. The managements of Hanshin and Hankyia railways have 
been studied in detail by Semple (2009) and it is somewhat fortuitous 
that when identifying a suitable case study railway company, the 
management of Hankyii Holdings, Inc. and Hanshin Electric Railway 
Co., Ltd. were integrated to establish Hanky Hanshin Holdings, Inc 
in October 2006 (Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, 2019). It is important 
to point out that another major private railway company—the Tokyi 
Group, operating in the Tokyo region—demonstrates leadership 

170 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

in sustainability, corporate responsibility and local community 
development (Tokyu Corporation, 2019). 

Hankyi Hanshin Holdings is structured with a Board of full-time 
(five) and part-time (four) Directors who have a two-way conversation 
with the President and the Chairman of the Group Management 
Committee (Hankyu Hanshin REIT, Inc., 2020: 21). The Group 
Management Committee itself is represented with the Heads of the 
various business divisions of the company and independent advisors. 
The group companies are also represented on the Group Management 
Committee. The company is guided by a Medium-Term Management 
Plan—a concrete action plan, extending over the period from the fiscal 
2019 to 2022. Actions include enhancing the value of the Umeda area; 
activating the railway line-side land uses; improving the transport 
networks with new lines; facilitating inbound tourism; and expanding 
the scale of the condominium businesses (Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, 
2019: 17 details 25-23). 

Hankyi Hanshin Holdings operates the following divisions: railway, 
bus and taxi operations in the Kansai region through its Hanshin Electric 
Railway; Hankyt Travel provides Japanese travel arrangements for 
foreign visitors; Hankyi-Hanshin-Daiichi Hotel Group operates about 
45 hotels, mostly in Toky6 and Osaka; the Takarazuka Revue Company 
stages theatrical revues; and Hankyi Express imports and exports cargo, 
provides logistics and handles international shipping. A breakdown 
of its revenue streams in 2019 is provided in Table 17. It illustrates the 
diversity of the company business, and that railway income is similar to 
earnings on real estate development (about 30 per cent). 

Table 17. Hankyt Hanshin Holdings Breakdown of Revenue Streams, 2019. 
Source: calculated by author from Hankyt Hanshin Holdings, 2019: 5-6. 

Business Activity Annual Revenue Percentage 
(billion yen) 

Urban Transport 238.6 30.0 
Real Estate 237.3 29.9 
International transport 90.0 11.3 
Entertainment 74.5 9.4 
Hotels 64.9 8.2 
Information & Communication 53.5 6.7 

Travel Services 35.5 4.5 

6. Railways 171 

The services offered by Japanese public- and private-sector railways 
(and airports) represent excellent examples of transport modal 
integration. All major economic activity areas in the Kanto, Kansai 
and Nagoya regions have international air services with the urban core 
areas connected by express rail services, with convenient interchange 
to the high-speed rail network. Passengers can transfer easily between 
the Shinkansen and conventional lines by simultaneously touching the 
ticket gates with an “EX-IC” card and a conventional line card such 
as TOICA (Tokai IC card) or PASMO. For example, JR Central has a 
special discount membership service—“Express Reservation” and “EX- 
IC”—which enables passengers to make reservations on the Tokaido 
and San’yo Shinkansen from mobile phones or personal computers, and 
to board the train directly from the entry gates without waiting in line at 
the ticket office window. 

Urban Subways 

There were only two subway systems in Japan—one in Toky6; the other 
in Osaka—before the modern democratic period. To keep pace with 
the commuter travel demands in the post-Second World War period, 
subways were constructed in a number of cities throughout Japan and 
Table 18 shows those subways in the study area. The table identifies the 
lines, network length and the year opened. The ownership structures 
are privately managed or a partnership between government and the 
private sector. 

Table 18. Subway Lines and Network Length in the Study Area, 2020. 
Source: Japan Subway Association, 2020; Japan Visitor, https://www. /japan-travel/japan-transport/japan subway#kysu. 

City Lines Network Year 
Length Opened 
Nagoya 6 Main Lines 93.3 1957 
Tokyo Asakusa Line, Mita Line, 109.0 1960 
Shinjuku Line, Oedo Line 
Yokohama _ | Blue Line, Green Line 53.4 1971 
Kobe Seishin-Yamate Line, Kaigan Line 38.1 2002 
Kyoto Karasuma Line, Tozai Line 31.2 1981 

172 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The Shinkansen Program 

In the modern democratic period, the government of Japan was not 
burdened with a defence budget, had a long tradition of investing in 
education, had a strong engineering culture and, significantly for railway 
development, had a surplus of experienced military and aeronautical 
engineers at its disposal for peace-time research and development in the 
Japan Railway Research Institute. They were fully aware of developments 
in France and in West Germany on technical matters related to high- 
speed rail and magnetic levitation technologies. Furthermore, there was 
a strong tradition that private industry (construction, machine-building, 
electrical and electronics industries) be contracted by governments to 
execute railway designs (Genser and Straszak, 1981: 160). 

These factors proved vital in the modernisation of the Japanese 
railway network, and for planning of high-speed rail systems. On May 
10 1956, Japan National Railways Head Office set up the “Investigation 
Committee for Enhancement of Traffic Capacity on the Tokaido Line”. 
Fifteen months later the Ministry of Transport established the “Trunk 
Line Investigation Committee” that recommended, in July 1958, the 
need to construct an entirely new route for the Tokaido railway line. 
The JNR President Sogo Shinji (1864-1981) appropriated money in the 
company’s 1959 budget. 

Construction of the line with 10 approved stations, including 
platforms at Toky6 and a new station in Osaka (Shin-Osaka), started in 
April 1959 (a loan of U.S. $80 million was secured from the World Bank 
in 1961). In 1960, high-speed test operations with continuous mesh 
catenary were conducted on the JNR Tohoku line, and, in November 
1962, a prototype train topped 200 km/h. By mid-1964, tests were 
running on the completed section of the Tokaido track near Maibara 
(Shiga Prefecture) before full commercial services between Tokyo 
and Shin-Osaka started on 1 October 1964 (Straszak, 1981, Table 1, 
pp. 29-32). This timing was to catch the world’s attention as the 1964 
Summer Olympic Games opened ten days later in Tokyo, signalling 
that Japan had “been welcomed back” into the international (Western) 
community (Hood, 2006). 

This highly successful completion of the “Tokaido Shinkansen” 
(Straszak and Tuch, 1977) was “due to the President of the JNR, Mr. 

6. Railways 173 

Sogo...” (Straszak, 1981: 7), and it opened the way for the Shinkansen 
program that was an exemplary international example of a national 
government development program as part of a national socio-economic 
system (Shima, 1994). In 1969, the New Comprehensive National 
Development Plan stated “”...with the advanced information and rapid 
transport system...we can expect that all of Japan...will be integrated into 
a single unit” (Straszak, 1981: 5). To illustrate this, JNR prepared a series 
of iso-chrone maps from 1971 to 1985 to demonstrate the shrinking of 
journey times by rail from Tokyo to the rest of the Japanese archipelago 
(Srazsak, 1981, Figure 2.9, p. 21). 

Development of the Shinkansen network was a key part of the 1969 
Second Comprehensive National Development Plan and led to the Diet 
promulgating on 18 May 1970 Law Number 71 “Law for Construction of 
Nation-Wide High-Speed Railways” with the Minister of Transport as 
the authority to implement the Shinkansen Program. Originally, the 
Shinkansen lines were seen as a way to solve the problem of insufficient 
capacity on JNR’s conventional lines, but the passage of the Development 
Law meant that Shinkansen lines had become part of the national 
strategy to achieve balanced development nationwide and to revitalise 
the more peripheral regions of Japan (Takatsu, 2007: 9). 

In response, JNR set up its Network Planning Department that 
was reorganised in 1977 as the Planning Division in the Shinkansen 
Construction Department (Straszak, 1981: 7). A map of the early high- 
speed railway network to integrate the “whole of Japan into a single 
unit” is printed in Straszak (1981, Figure 2.5, p. 13). Details on the 
procedural process as to how the Minister of Transport approves the 
basic plan and construction approval can be found in Strazsak (1981, 
Figure 2.6, p. 15) who also provides a description of the roles played 
by actors in civic and civil society in the planning for high-speed rail 
(Gensher and Straszak, 1981: 154-162). 

High-speed railways continued to be constructed across Japan, but 
the expansion forced JNR further into debt. With high labour costs (the 
administration of the Shinkansen Program employed 13,369 people in 
March 1976) and expenses outstripping revenues, JNR accumulated 
annual deficit mushroomed from about 800,000 million yen in 1971 
to 3,160 thousands of millions of yen in 1975 (Gensher and Straszak, 
1981, Table 5.1, p. 151)—approximately a four-fold increase in four 

174 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

years. To compound its financial problems, JNR also lost its share in 
ton-kilometres of domestic freight carried by the national rail network 
from about 30 per cent in 1965 to 13 per cent ten years later (Gensher 
and Straszak, 1981, Figure 5.18, p. 196). 

The 1987 railway reforms transferred responsibility for operations 
of the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines to JR East, the Tokaid6 
Shinkansen to JR Central and the San’yo Shinkansen to JR West. The 
September 1987 Law on the Transfer of Construction Projects for Shinkansen 
Lines Overseen by Passenger Railway Companies to the Japan Railway 
Construction Company (JRCC) transferred responsibility for constructing 
Shinkansen lines to the JRCC (Takatsu, 2007: 9). 

The Shinkansen Railway Holding Organization, established as part 
of the JNR privatisation process, owned the four existing Shinkansen 
lines (Tokaido, San’yo, Tohoku and J6etsu) and leased the infrastructure 
facilities to the operating companies. However, this arrangement was 
abandoned in 1991 when the operators complained that they could 
not easily draw-up long-term business plans because they could not 
depreciate Shinkansen assets. The role of the Shinkansen Railway 
Holding Organization was taken over by the Railway Development 
Fund (RDF) with responsibility for transferring all Shinkansen assets 
and liabilities to the railway operators in the JR group. 

The Shinkansen Program has had extraordinary impacts (Hayashi 
et al., 2017). The Tokaido Shinkansen has carried about 6.4 billion 
passengers since its inaugural commercial service in 1964 (Central Japan 
Railway Company, 2019:18). Journey times between Toky6 and Shin- 
Osaka have dropped from 3 hours 10 minutes on the hikari service to 2 
hours 33 minutes on the nozomi service. This has been facilitated by the 
construction of additional platforms and the installation of additional 
draw-out tracks at Shin-Osaka Station. Timetable changes in the Spring 
of 2020, introduced a “12 Nozomi Timetable,” allowing all Nozomi 
700A type services to run at the same highest speed of 285 km/h and 
reduce the journey time to 2 hours 30 minutes (Central Japan Railway 
Company, 2019: 8). 

Magnetic Levitation Railways 

Japan National Railways initiated research on a linear propulsion 
railway system in 1962. In July 1972, the JNR Technical Research 

6. Railways 175 

Institute ran a prototype called ML-100 using a superconducting magnet 
linear synchronised motor at 60 km/h. This represented a world’s first. 
Germany followed with its maglev test track in Emsland. In 1977, testing 
of vehicles of speeds up to 500 km/h moved to a new track of length 7 
km in Hyiga, a port-city on Kyiishit Island. 

When JNR was privatised in 1987 the development of the maglev 
system was taken over by the Central Japan Railway Company. It 
decided to build a better testing facility in Yamanashi Prefecture to 
the west of Tokyo with a longer track length of 18.4 km, including 
tunnels, steeper gradients and curves. From 1997, MLX01 trains were 
tested there, followed by long-distance running tests by alternately 
operating two trainsets with rolling stock and facilities for commercial 
use.” Cumulative running distance was 2.76 million km, as of February 
28, 2019 (Central Japan Railway Company, 2019:12). Running tests 
were started with the Series LO rolling stock, based on commercial 
specifications, and covered 4,064 km in one day reaching a top speed in 
2015 of 603 km/h (Central Japan Railway Company, 2019: 25). In total, 
investment in the Yamanashi line was 170.6 billion yen; for its extension 
to 42.8 km there was an additional 339.1 billion yen. The investment in 
proprietary superconducting maglev technological developments was 
197.1 billion yen (Central Japan Railway Company, 2019: 24). 

When JR Central announced the decision of building the Maglev 
Chuo Shinkansen, and opening it in 2045, its stock price plunged. In 
May 2011, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 
reported that it was appropriate to utilise the maglev technology on the 
inland Southern-Alps route and designated JR Central as the construction 
authority between Tokyo and Osaka (and to finance the construction) 
and also to be the railway operator (Central Japan Railway Company, 
2012: 24). The development concept for a service with a maximum 
speed of 505 km/h cost of 9,030 billion yen. The inland route avoids the 
coastal areas along the Tokaido route that are vulnerable to the risk of 

2 In 2015, Professor Yoshitsugu Hayashi (Nagoya University) kindly arranged a site 
briefing and a test ride with JR Central Railway at the Yamanashi Test track. To 
illustrate the seamlessness of travel in Japan, that morning I took the JR Hokkaido 
rapid transit from Sapporo to the New Chitose Airport, an ANA flight to Tokyo 
Haneda Airport, followed by rail to the newly opened Shinagawa to Tokyo 
Station—a short journey that few people would ever make by Shinkansen. At Tokyo 
Station, I met up with Professor Hayashi and we took the JR Chu line to Otsuki 
Station arriving mid-morning. 

176 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

earthquakes and tsunami inundation. The environmental assessment, 
and the two-stage Construction Implementation Plan were approved in 
2014 and 2018, respectively. 

The first phase of the project is the extension of the Yamanashi line 
for a distance of 286 km that would link the stations at Shinagawa and 
Nagoya (Figure 6). The estimated cost for construction and rolling 
stock is 5,523.5 billion yen. As of 2020, construction contracts for the 
most time-consuming and most difficult construction work, such as 
the construction of the Southern Alps tunnel and the Shinagawa and 
Nagoya Terminal Stations, have been let. Work is proceeding towards a 
2027 completion date (Central Japan Railway Company, 2019: 22). The 
Act on the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency, 
Independent Administrative Agency, was revised in November 2016. The 
Agency provides JR Central with the loans for part of the funds required 
for the construction of the Chuo Shinkansen. Japan Central Railway 
borrowed a total of 3 trillion yen before July 2017 (Japan Central Railway 
Company (2020: 73). 

Route of the Chuo Shinkansen (Between Tokyo and the City of Nagoya) — thismapis cope om a Japanese map (th scale of o 100000) published ty the Geographical Sire tt wth hr auhoizatn. (thorn ruber HS Jo Fuk 310) 

ner eed Aieciialeciehs se 
o oe: a p spestl Brelaniis a FTokyo Metropolis Re 
| " x 


== Planning Route 
=EcaE : Yamanashi Maglev Line 
© :Station Location 

Figure 6. Proposed Route for the Chuo Shinkansen between Shinagawa, Tokyo, 
and Nagoya (Approximate Locations of the New Stations are Indicated) and the 
Current Yamanashi Test Track. 

Source: Central Japan Railway Company, 2020: 102. All rights reserved. 


The import of railway technology in Japan had astrong British connection 
(Table 19). The British Minister convened a meeting in late 1869 with the 
Vice Premier, the Minister and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and the 
Assistant Vice Minister of Finance. Railways were perceived as a symbol 
of centralised political power that would reinforce the legitimacy of 

6. Railways 177 

the new Meiji government. The Japanese Cabinet began hiring British 
engineers to design and build railways in Japan and appointed Edmund 
Morel as its first Engineer-in-Chief. On his advice, the Ministry of Public 
Works was established in 1871 to administer the railway expansion 
program with Masaru Inoue (who had studied railway and mining 
at University College London) as its first Director of Railways. British 
engineers determined that the locomotives should run on the 3’ 6” 
(1,067 mm) narrow gauge tracks. The first railway, with a terminus in 
Tokyo (Shimbashi) and the other at Noge Kaigan (Yokohama), opened 
in 1872. 

The private sector entered into railway construction also at an early 
date, until the government privatised all major trunk lines in 1906. The 
government promoted railway construction in regional areas on an even 
narrower gauge (782 mm) through the 1910 Light Railway Act (revised 
1921). The dominance in ownership of railways by the government 
lasted until 1987 when Japan National Railways was privatised and 
divided into the regional operations that exist today. Municipal 
governments were largely responsible for the introduction of horse- 
drawn and electric trams from the late 19th century, and urban subway 
construction was initiated in Tokyo by the private sector, although 
subsequent developments in other cities involved both sectors. 

Table 19. Summary of Major Events in Japanese Railway Development— 
Institutions and Organisations. 
Source: Author. 

Major Event Date | Key Players 
Introduction of steam engine 1853_| Russian government 
Lobbying to introduce railways 1869 | British Minister to Japan 
British railway expert, Edmund 1870 | Japanese Cabinet 

Morel hired as Engineer-in-Chief. 
Establishment of Ministry of Public | 1871 | Japanese Cabinet 
Works Masaru Inoue appointed as 
first Director of Railways in Japan 
Shimbashi to Yokohama railway 1872 | Ministry of Public Works 
Osaka to Kobe railway opens 1874 | Ministry of Public Works 
First horse-drawn tramway, Tokyo | 1880 | Municipal Government 
Railway Construction Act 1892 | Private companies 

178 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Major Event Date | Key Players 

Railway Nationalization purchase | 1906 | Japanese Government Diet 
of 17 private railway companies. 
Railway Technical Research 1907 | Imperial Railway Agency 
Institute formed 
Light Railway Act 1910 encouraged | 1910 | Japanese Government Diet 
narrower gauge 762 mm railways 
Ministry of Railways established 1920 | Japanese Government Diet 

Urban railway network plan 1925 | Japanese Government Diet 
First Subway opens, Tokyo 1927 | Private company 

Japanese National Railways (JNR) | 1948 | Allied Occupation Forces 
High-speed rail opens Tokyo and 1964 | Japanese National Railways 
Privatisation of JNR 1987 | Japanese Government Diet 
Company assumes responsibility 1987 | Central Japan Railway Company 
for maglev 
Construction of Chuo maglev 2018 | Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, 
approved Transport and Tourism 

By international standards, the post-Second World War technological 
developments in high-speed rail and in magnetic levitation systems have 
been impressive. The Railway Technical Research Institute (established 
in 1907) and the Japan Railway Research Institute (established 1948), 
together with research and development (R&D) expertise from industry 
and the military, provided the platform for this railway expertise. 

Although derided at the time, the vision of a national network of 
high-speed rail provided by the JNR President, Mr. Sogo, has been 
spectacularly realised. The New Comprehensive National Development 
Plan of 1968 foresaw that the technology would integrate the economy 
and society into a single unit—a policy aspiration that has been highly 
successful. The opening of the Maglev Chuo Shinkansen later this 
decade will further speed up the flow of people, information and new 
ideas in the study area. 

Possibly the greatest challenge is how best to maintain the vast railway 
system against a context of an ageing population, reduced government 
income from taxation and a lack of central and local government capacity 
to provide the required subsidies. One way is to separate the owner of 

6. Railways 179 

the infrastructure from the rail operator (the franchise model), as in 
the European Union, but policy reform and transitions from existing 
arrangements to new ones have proved to be difficult in the Japanese 
cultural context. Most profitable lines are owned by private entities and 
the new model would force operators into an internal subsidy of the 
less lucrative services with the beneficiary being the government with 
reduced subsidies. Whatever the institutional arrangements in the future, 
there is the problem of maintaining ageing infrastructure such as tunnels 
and bridges where the average age of these infrastructure maintained 
by governments is 32 years (Okajima Gen’ pers. comm.). The collapse, 
in early December 2012, of the Sasago motorway tunnel highlights the 
risks of under-investing in the maintenance of infrastructure. 


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7. Civil Aviation and Airports 

The Japanese people appear to be quite as air-minded as those of any other 
country, and a steady development of the aviation industry is expected 

Moulton with Ko, 1931 


The Japanese aviation industry dates from the late Meiji era and its early 
development heavily involved the military, especially in the period 
leading up to the Second World War. In June 1912, the navy formed The 
Committee for Naval Aeronautic Research (#BMENHAE Kaigun 
Kokiijitsu Kenkukai) (Sagen, 2004: 76). By 1916, the Japanese Imperial 
Navy had initiated the land-based kokiitai system (naval air station and 
the flying unit stationed there) and, by the Spring of 1918, three Maurice 
Farman and Curtis seaplanes flew non-stop from Yokosuka (Kanagawa 
Prefecture) to Sakai (Osaka Prefecture)—a distance of 391 km. 

Japan was a signatory to the international Convention Relating to the 
Regulation of Aerial Navigation dated 13 October 1919. In December of 
that year, a Special Aeronautical Committee was set up as an advisory 
organ to the Ministry of War in order to study the ways and means of 
directing, promoting and regulating all civil aviation enterprises. This 
Committee drafted Japan’s Air Navigation Law of April 1921 (Kataoka, 
1936: 95). The first year of civilian flights took place in the same year. The 
private enterprise company, Japan Air Transport Institute, pioneered 
seaplane passenger services from the Ohama shore near Sakai to nearby 
Kizugawa Airfield, Osaka, and then on to Tokushima City at the eastern 
end of Shikoki Island (63 km). 

The Japanese Government stepped in as an airline operator when, 
on 30 October 1928, it established the Japan Air Transport Corporation 
(JAT) as the national flag carrier. JAT absorbed the Japan Air Transport 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 /OBP.0281.07 

184 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Institute and two other small companies and began scheduled passenger 
services in 1929. In current prices, the national government subsidised 
JAT annually by about U.S. $1 billion. Its aircraft were frequently 
chartered (for free) by the military for missions in Asia, especially 
during the 1931 invasion of Manchuria. The military role in Japanese 
aviation history expanded during the 1930s (Peattie, 2013), but with 
the country’s defeat in 1945 its airfields were taken over by Allied 
occupying forces until they were returned to Japan for civilian aviation 
that recommenced from 1952 onwards. 

In the modern democratic period, aviation is strongly regulated by 
international and bilateral agreements and technical innovation through 
the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Cronin, 2013). This 
chapter will demonstrate the strong regulatory role that the Japanese 
Government exercises over the private-sector organisations providing 
civilian airline services. From 1929, the Japanese Government has also 
been an airline operator (JAT then JAL) until its privatisation in 1987. 

In the post-war era, the national government has been the sole planner 
for airports, the major operator of major airports and the primary source 
of funds for major airport construction. Somewhat unusual is the fact 
that legislation allows airport terminals and associated parking to be 
operated by the private sector. Under private finance initiatives (PFI), 
the government is increasing the opportunity for the private sector to 
be involved with operating airports under concession agreements with 
the Japanese Government (Sato and Okatani, 2016: 2). All of the above 
themes are illustrated in detail with airports in the Chtibu, Osaka and 
Tokyo regions and with the historical development of airline companies 
and airport terminal operators. We start with the early stages of Japanese 
aviation in the modern period. 

Modern Period 

The early development of aviation is closely tied to the Japanese military, 
especially a few individuals in the Imperial Navy who argued against 
the then prevailing doctrine of land-based warfare (Sagen, 2004). In 
1903, Lieutenant Commander Akiyama Saneyuki lectured at the Naval 
Staff College in Tokyo on the advances in aviation technology. However, 
enthusiasts in the navy were marginalised from decision-making officers 
despite expressing their views in various fora. Lieutenant Commander 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 185 

Yamamoto Eisuke presented a written statement on aviation to his 
superiors in March 1909 (in April 1927, he was appointed chief of the 
Naval Aviation Department). By July 1909, the army and navy jointly 
established The Provisional Committee for Research on Military Air 
Balloons (Em2#=3 FAS EKGASL) and in June 1912 the navy formed The 
Committee for Naval Aeronautic Research (## =A NHRAS), sending 
officers abroad for flight training and gathering strategic information on 

Melzar (2020) argues that the successive reshaping of Japan's 
aviation has happened under French, British, German, and American 
influence with technological transfer a key element. The first 
experiments in naval aviation in Japan took place in early November 
1912, when the Navy purchased and tested the French-manufactured 
Maurice Farman and Curtis float biplanes off Oppama in Yokosuka 
(Kanagawa Prefecture) before unveiling them at the 1912 Naval Review 
held off the coast at Yokohama (Suzuki and Sakai, 2005). Equipment 
and planes were imported from the Netherlands, the UK and the 
U.S.A., and planes were also produced under international licencing 
agreements. Japanese manufacturers developed their own planes such 
as the Mitsubishi shipboard attack plane Model 13 (1924) and the 
Kawasaki reconnaissance plane Model 88 (1928) but these were based 
predominantly on Western manufacturing designs. 

Japanese aeronautical engineering advanced quickly and introduced 
distinctive innovations. In 1936, the Mitsubishi Aircraft Company 
produced the A5M1 shipboard fighter plan that went into service a 
year later and the more powerful engine A5M2 that entered service 
with the Imperial Navy early in 1937. This plane was highly successful 
in securing Japanese air supremacy over China after the outbreak of 
the Second Sino-Japanese. The success of this aircraft created a new 
awareness of the potential of strategic air power, which increased when 
a new fighter, the A6M2 (known as the “Zero” fighter), designed by 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, was accepted by the Navy in 
July 1940. This fighter aircraft out-performed Allied military aircraft in 
the early stages of the Pacific War.’ 

1 Designed by Horikoshi Jird (1903-1982), the Zero was the first all-metal, low-wing 
monoplane with an enclosed cockpit produced by any world power outside of 
the U.S.A. or Europe. It possessed unparalleled advantages of speed, handling, 
manoeuvrability and an impressive range of 3,000 km. In the conflict with China 

186 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Civilian aircraft were mainly imported from the Netherlands (Fokker) 
and the U.S.A. (Douglas DC-2). Together with the Japanese Nakajima 
aircraft (Mikesh and Abe, 1990) they were deployed in the 1920s when 
civilian aviation started up. Data from the Japanese Department of 
Communications, Bureau of Aeronautics, Manual on Aeronautics, show 
that in the first year of civilian flights in 1921 civilian planes flew a total 
of about 50,000 km (Moulton with Ko, 1931: 89). In 1922 and 1923, three 
small companies—the first being the Japan Air Transport Institute— 
launched air transport service in Japan on a modest scale, covering 
limited routes between domestic cities. The inaugural service took place 
on 3 November 1922 with a flight off the Ohama Coast near Sakai to 
Tokushima City on Shikokt Island. These private companies struggled 
to maintain their operations through the 1920s. 

The Japanese Government was a strong supporter of commercial 
aviation. On 30 October 1928, in order to promote civil aviation, the 
Japanese Government established a national flag carrier, Japan Air 
Transport Corporation (JAT), which absorbed the three private airline 
companies and expanded services. JAT was officially controlled by the 
government’s Ministry of Communications. It received the equivalent 
of U.S. $1 billion (in today’s currency) from the Japanese Government 
during its first 11 years of operations. JAT began its first regular passenger 
service the following year, initially sharing the Imperial Japanese Army 
air base at Tachikawa (about 41 km west of Toky6 Railway Station) as 
its Tokyo terminal. The majority of the civilian flying fields were small 
and poorly equipped so the formation of JAT spurred the construction 
of Haneda Airport to serve Tokyo. 

In 1930, the Ministry of Communications purchased a 48-hectare 
piece of private land in the town of Haneda on Tokyo Bay (the direct 
distance from Tokyo Station is 15 km) for the purpose of constructing an 
airfield. Operations of the new civilian Haneda Airfield began in 1931. 
Through the 1930s, Haneda Airfield handled flights to and from various 
airfields in Japan, in Korea and in the puppet state of Manchuria. The 

in July 1940, the Zero achieved an impressive kill ratio against outdated Russian, 
American, and Chinese designs, although many of these were antiquated biplanes. 
During the latter half of 1940, the Zero gained complete air superiority for Japan, 
destroying 59 Chinese aircraft in the air without losing a single fighter (Warfare 
History Network, 2019). 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 187 

military gradually took over aviation operations at Haneda Airfield: in 
1939, its runway was extended to the length of 800 metres and a second 
runway of the same length was constructed. During the war, civilian 
flights in and out of Haneda became extremely rare. 

In exchange for the subsidy to JAT, the government had free use of the 
aircraft and facilities, and, importantly, the Japanese military, especially 
the Japanese army, played a substantial role in its governance. Noguchi 
and Boynes (2012) analyse the role of the state in determining the use 
of budgets within Japan Air Transport (1928-1938) and Japan Airways 
(1938-1945). Through the decade of the 1930s, as the Japanese Empire 
began to expand, the military made full use of JAT’s airplanes for various 
conflicts overseas. JAL’s aircraft were used in the invasion of Manchuria 
but this military transport role decreased as the army and JAT helped to 
establish the Manchukuo Aviation Company in 1932 (a consortium of 
the puppet government of Manchuria, the South Manchurian Railway 
Company and Sumitomo zaibatsu), the Huitong Airways (1936)—in 
preparation for Japan’s invasion of north China—and China Airways 
(1938), which later absorbed Huitong Airways (Century of Flight, n.d.). 

These military imperatives allowed JAT to shift its focus to the civilian 
passenger market and begin using its new 14-passenger Douglas DC-2s 
on more commercially profitable routes between Japan and Manchuria 
in 1936. JAT benefitted from a resurgence in military passenger traffic 
with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937. In 1938, JAT 
carried nearly 70,000 passengers, representing 2.6 per cent of the world’s 
passenger traffic (Century of Flight, n.d.). The same year, Kizugawa 
Airport in Osaka handled 8,800 departures and arrivals and 10,000 
passengers (equivalent of a mean passenger occupancy per aircraft of 

At the end of the year, the Japanese Government established a new 
airline, Greater Japan Airways (GJA), as a monopoly business for 
all civil aviation when JAT was merged into the new company. GJA 
was originally an independent private company when the Japanese 
Government bought out half of the company’s net worth. GJA was 
primarily an international operator, and it used a combination of foreign 
and domestic aircraft for its services. These planes included the eight- 
passenger Nakajima AT-2 airliner, the 11-passenger Mitsubishi MC-20 
transport aircraft, and the domestically built version of the 21-passenger 

188 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

seat Douglas DC-3. The Japanese had signed a licensing agreement with 
the Douglas Company in February 1938 to build domestic versions of 
the DC-3. 

The beginning of the war in the Pacific in December 1941 substantially 
affected Japanese commercial aviation. One month after the start 
of hostilities, the Japanese Government suspended all commercial 
operations of GJA. Instead, the airline’s services were completely geared 
to support the military’s operations in the Pacific. Japanese airfields were 
heavily bombed by Allied forces, and, with the occupation of Japan, its 
airfields were under the control of Allied air commands that lasted until 
the end of the Korean War. Civilian air services in Japan did not resume 
until 1952. 

Modern Democratic Period 

With the defeat of Japan in 1945, Allied forces occupied many airfields. 
Japan was prohibited from producing or using airplanes, and all facilities 
for the manufacture of aircraft and for aeronautical research were either 
dismantled or converted to other purposes. This directive by the Allied 
Occupying Forces lasted until April 1952 when Japanese civil aviation 
activities resumed following the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace 
Treaty (Kodansha, 1993: 86). 

The modern commercial aviation industry in Japan, as we understand 
it today,? emerged after the end of the Pacific War with the resumption 
of international and domestic flights. The industry is highly regulated 
internally, and greatly influenced both by bilateral agreements on 
international air services (the first with the U.S.A. in 1952, then the 

2 The key policies of the Japanese Government in the 21st century have been: 
“Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2002” 
approved by Cabinet on 25 June 2002; report of the Aviation Subcommittee of the 
Transportation Policy Council (21 June 2007) “Measures for Future Development 
and Operation of Airports and Aviation Security Facilities—A Strategic New 
Aviation Policy Vision”; Cabinet decision on Asia Gateway Concept “Basic Policy 
for Economic and Fiscal Management 2007” approved on 19 June 2007; review of 
legal system related to airport maintenance and operation (promulgation of law on 
18 June 2008, partial enforcement); Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism growth strategy (17 May 2010) formulated six strategies in the aviation 
field and approved by Cabinet on 18 June 2010 as “New Growth Strategy”; and 
Cabinet decision on Japan Revitalization Strategy (31 July 2012 (Civil Aviation 
Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2012). 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 189 

United Kingdom, and now there are agreements with 55 countries 
and one region) and by the International Civil Aviation Organisation 
(ICAO), established in 1947 in Montreal, Canada, whose core function 
is to research new air transport policy and standardised innovations 
(https:/ / 

Nowadays, in Japan, air carriers are predominantly private- 
sector organisations, airports are operated primarily by national and 
local governments (with a few major airport hubs now operated on 
concessions from the government), terminals and parking are contested 
by both sectors and aviation policy is formulated by the Ministry of 
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Air traffic control is 
a government function provided by the Air Traffic Services System 
within the Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, 
Transport and Tourism. 

Government Airlines and Private-Sector Airlines 

When civilian air transport resumed, Japan Air Lines (JAL) was 
established in 1953 as a major private company to service domestic 
and international markets. In order to foster the company as a 
national flag carrier, a new bill in the Diet was passed to make JAL a 
special corporation. The government invested in JAL the equivalent 
of the value of the capital stock that the company originally sold in 
starting its business (Yamauchi and Ito, 1996, footnote 1, p. 4; Ito and 
Yamauchi, 1996). Around the same time, several small private airline 
companies were founded, but the domestic market was in its early 
stage of development and their business conditions were unstable with 
bankruptcies and consolidations occurring. 

By 1957, All Nippon Airways (ANA) had become the second 
major airline. The remaining private companies underwent various 
consolidations, and by the mid-1960s, there were four airline companies 
operating in Japan: JAL; ANA; Japan Domestic Airlines (JDA); and Toa 
Airways (TA). In the second half of the 1960s, TA formed cooperative 
arrangements with ANA, whilst JDA associated with JAL. This flagged 
possible company mergers but the buoyant passenger demand lead 
to TA and JDA merging with each other in 1971 to form Toa Domestic 
Airlines—later the Japan Air System (JAS). 

190 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The Japanese Government kept a watchful eye on these business 
practices. A Cabinet Meeting Resolution of 1970 “Concerning Airline 
Operations” approved a restructuring of the airline industry. The reform 
resulted in a change from a two-company (JAL and ANA) regime to a 
three-company (JAL, ANA, JAS) regime. There were specific rules (“The 
Aviation Constitution”) issued in 1972 that segmented the industry into 
different markets. JAL would service international routes and domestic 
trunk routes; ANA would serve domestic trunk and local routes plus 
short-distance international charter flights; and JAS would serve local 
routes and a portion of domestic trunk routes. JAL and JAS merged in 
2002. A new carrier could enter the international air cargo market if 
threshold demand was established. Strict economic rules to all aspects 
of the Japanese airline industry were introduced where the three main 
airlines were required to follow the Ministry of Transport’s (MOT’s) 
‘administrative guidelines’ as to their business plans and domestic and 
international routes flown. 

In the 1970s, the annual growth rate of revenue-passenger kilometres 
in the domestic markets was 12.2 per cent, and, in international markets, 
the figure was an astounding 42.4 per cent when airline networks 
expanded (Yamauchi and Ito, 1996: 4). However, the aviation sector of 
any domestic economy cannot be isolated from international market 
trends and the deregulation of the United States airline industry that 
occurred in 1978 (Williams, 2017; Miyoshi, 2015; and Sinha, 2019) 
proved an important external influence on Japanese government 
policy. Subsequent quantitative analyses demonstrated the success of 
deregulation to consumers in Japan (Kanda et al., 2006) although this 
claim of success is disputed by Ito (2007). 

In September 1985, the Minister of Transport consulted the Council 
for Transport Policy (an official advisory committee to the Minister) 
about the future of airline services in Japan. Their reports advocated 
for greater competition in both domestic and international markets: 
(1) international routes would be served by multiple carriers; (2) 
competition on domestic routes would be promoted by new entry 
into particular city pair markets; and (3) JAL would be completely 
privatised (the government held a 34.7 per cent equity share when it was 
privatised in November 1987). Interestingly, the Council for Transport 
Policy Report argued that “an American style of deregulation does 
not suit circumstances in Japan” because of the capacity limitations of 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 191 

Tokyé International (Haneda) Airport and Osaka International (Itami) 
Airport, and because of the different competitive strengths of the airlines 
(Yamauchi and Ito, 1996: 6-7). 

This partial deregulation enabled the three carriers to make their own 
decisions on matters such as capacity increases, introduction of new 
types of fares and routes to fly. The Civil Aeronautics Law was revised 
at the end of 1994 to relax the conditions for introducing and setting 
discount fares in domestic markets. In 1995, JAL introduced a new 
discount fare which was 25 to 35 per cent lower than the regular fare, 
with restrictions similar to the U.S. discount ticketing system. Another 
example was in 2000, when, to compete with high-speed rail, JAL, ANA, 
and JAS introduced the ‘shuttle’ service in the TokyO—Osaka (Itami) 
market to standardise the airfare, make the tickets interchangeable 
amongst the three companies and speed up the boarding process (Ito, 
2007: 5-7). 

In 1997, the Japanese Government further deregulated the business 
by allowing new entrants into the domestic market. In 1998, Skymark 
started operations on the second busiest domestic route—Haneda 
(Téky6) to Fukuoka—and Air Do started flying between Haneda and 
Sapporo (Hokkaido) on the busiest domestic route. Described as “no 
frills” airlines with cheaper fares, Skymark and Air Do were the first 
new entrants since JAS began operations in 1945. By 2021, there were 
eight domestic and international carriers (Table 20), two cargo carriers 
(ANA Cargo and Nippon Cargo Airlines, owned by Nippon Yuson) and 
14 domestic airlines that commenced operations between 1983 and 2010. 

The list of Japanese domestic airlines and their commencement date 
are as follows: Air Do (1998); Amakusa Airlines (2000); All Nippon 
Airways Wings (2010); Fuji Dream Airlines (2009); Hokkaido Air 
System (1998); Ibex Airlines (2004); Japan Transocean Air (1993); New 
Central Airlines (1978); New Japan Aviation (2011); Oriental Airbridge 
(2001); Ryukyu Air Commuter (1985); and Solaseed Air (2011). Their 
ownership structure is varied reflecting ANA and JAL support of 
regional airlines, local government and business interest in investing in 
air transport, corporate investors and the encouragement of ordinary 

For example, Air Do started up with 26 shareholders, owners of 
small- and medium-sized Hokkaid6-based companies, plus professional 
individuals. The main shareholders are now Kyoto Ceramics, Reikei Co., 

192 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Tokyo Marine and Fire Insurance and Hokkaido Electric. The company 

made a direct appeal to the citizens of Hokkaid6 to support Air Do and 

bring more affordable fares to the region. Some 7,000 shares were sold at 

50,000 yen each (U.S. $450)—mostly on a one share per person basis that 

has created a useful market of loyal passengers (Aviation Strategy, 1999: 

14). However, the airline has had a checked history with bankruptcy 

and periodic restructuring (Ito, 2007). 

Table 20. Ownership of Japanese Domestic and International Airlines. 
Source: Author based on Airline Company Websites. 

Airline Company Commenced Ownership 

All Nippon Airways 1952 ANA Holdings 


Japan Airlines (JAL) 1951 Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. 

Jetstar Japan (JJP) 2012 Qantas (33.3%), JAL (33.3%), 
Mitsubishi Corporation (16.7%) 
& Century Tokyo Leasing 
Corporation (16.7%) 

Peach Aviation (APJ) 2011 ANA, FEIG, and the Innovation 
Network Corporation of Japan 

Skymark Airlines (SKY) 1998 Low-cost carrier Integral 
Corporation (50.1%), with 
minority investments from 
ANA (16.5%), Sumitomo Mitsui 
Banking Corporation and the 
Development Bank of Japan 

Spring Airlines Japan 2014 Low-cost carrier owned by 

(SJO) Spring Airlines, China (33%) 
and various Japanese investors. 

StarFlyer (SFJ) 2006 ANA (19.0%) stake, and TOTO, 
Yasakawa Electric Corporation, 
Kyushu Electric Power 
Company and Nissan Motor 

ZIPAIR Tokyo (TZT) 2020* Subsidiary of JAL 

* Due to Covid-19 passenger services have been delayed but cargo flights to 
Bangkok commenced in June 2020 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 193 

Amongst these regional airline companies, the ownership patterns 
are diverse. J-Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of JAL, whereas Ibex 
Airlines is a regional airline with a collaborative arrangement with 
ANA. Solaseed Air’s major shareholders are the Development Bank of 
Japan (22.4 per cent), Miyazaki Kotsu Co., Ltd. (17.0 per cent) and ANA 
Holdings Inc. (17.0 per cent). Fuji Dream Airlines is a wholly owned 
subsidiary of Suzuyo & Co., Ltd. (core businesses include domestic and 
international logistics) and New Central Airlines is owned by Kawada 

There is a long history of the Japanese Government formulating 
policies on inbound travellers (Soshiroda, 2005), although the current 
population decline and the Covid pandemic of 2019 has forced the 
government to re-think ways of attracting tourist business. In the 1990s, 
there was a further decentralisation of charter flights to regional airports 
in Japan when, from 1989 to 2010, the number of airports servicing 
charter flights increased from 18 to 32. The share of charter flights 
handled by regional airports increased from 75 per cent to 92 per cent 
(Wu and Peng, 2014: 51). 

Japan deregulated its airline market in 2000 by implementing a new 
Airline Act that applied equally to both scheduled service and charter 
airlines. Japan lifted the restrictions regulating the number of charter 
flights operated by foreign carriers in an attempt to attract more foreign 
carriers. Suffering from an ageing and shrinking population, Japan 
began to vigorously promote inbound tourism in 2003 by launching the 
“Visit Japan Campaign”. 

On 16 May 2007, the Japanese Government launched the Asian 
Gateway Initiative to achieve “Asian Open Skies”, especially to promote 
outbound tourism. Under the Asian Open Skies policy, Japan signed 
open skies treaties with Korea and the U.S.A. in 2010, with Hong Kong, 
Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan in 2011, and with China in 
August 2012. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism progressively liberalised air charter services: in December 
2008, it introduced measures to allow foreign airlines to operate charters 
between Japan and a third country without the permission of Japanese 

In particular, the Ministry announced its intent to promote the air 
charter business at Narita International Airport by allowing charter 

194 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

flights to be operated on routes serviced by scheduled flights. In 2010, 
as part of the Asian Gateway Initiative, the Ministry further deregulated 
Haneda by allowing this airport to service long-haul charters (Wu and 
Peng, 2014: 54). In the entire Japanese market, charters are operated on 
more routes and reach more airports than regular airlines (Wu, 2016: 

The year 2012 heralded the low-cost carrier (LCC) era in Japan 
when the first LCC-dedicated terminal was opened at Kansai Airport 
(Terminal 2) in October (Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2012: 37-39). Terminal 2 marked 
the launch of an airport-airline collaboration, giving birth to the first 
Japanese based LCC, Peach Aviation. As shown in Table 20, three more 
Japanese low-cost carriers have entered the aviation market since 2020. 

Airport Policy and Planning 

The Japanese Government plays a dominant role in airport planning, 
funding and construction of aviation facilities. The Aerodrome 
Development Law (1952) stipulated that, of various aerodromes in Japan, 
those serving civil aviation routes are to be designated as “airports”. 
These airports are regulated by the Aeronautical Law (1952) with regard 
to safety, the Noise Prevention Law (1967) with regard to environmental 
noise and the Airport Development Law (1956) with regard to airport 
developments (Shibata, 1999: 125). 

The law classifies airports that offer scheduled commercial flights 
as: Category One—those required for international routes; Category 
Two—those required for major domestic routes; and Category Three— 
those required for regional domestic routes. Table 21 has been updated 
with a footnote and classifies the 94 Japanese airports into these three 
categories (Kobe Airport had not been constructed at the time this 
table was prepared) and describes those airports that now have been 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 195 
Table 21. Classification of Japanese Airports, as of 1999.* 
Source: reproduced from Shibata, 1999, Table 1, p. 127, and updated by 
the Author. 
Airport Operator or Name of Airport/ Number 
Category Ownership Aerofrome of 
ONE Ministry of Toky6 International, Osaka 4(5) 
Transport International 
Public New Toky6 International 
Corporation (Narita) 
Stock Corporation | Kansai International, (Chtibu 
TWO Ministry of New Chitose, Wakkanai, 20 
Transport Kushiro, Hakodate, Sendai, 
Niigata, Nagoya, Yao, 
Hiroshima, Takamatsu, 
Matsuyama, Kochi, Fukuoka, 
Kita-Kyushu, Nagasaki, 
Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, 
Kagoshima, Naha. 
Municipality Asahikawa, Obihiro, Akita, 5 
Yamagata, Yamaguchi-Ube. 
Defense Agency or | Tokushima Aerodrome, 4 
Defense Facilities | Sapporo Aerodrome, Komatsu 
Administration Aerodrome, Miho Aerodrome. 
THREE Municipalities (Medium and smaller regional 59 
Total Number of Airports 92(93) 

Subject to Application of 
Airport Development Law 

*As of 2021: Chaibu, Kansai, Kobe & Osaka (Itami) Airports are privatised; 
Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) is operated by the Civil Aviation 
Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; Sendai 

Airport, after the 2011 Northeast Japan Earthquake and tsumami was 
rebuilt for U.S. $21.1 million by a consortium led by the Tokya Corporation 
on a 30-year public service concession scheme; and Hiroshima Airport was 

privatised from mid-2021. 

196 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Airport development plans had been formulated by the Ministry of 
Transport every five years. The first plan was for the period 1967 to 
1970 where the policy objective was to increase the capacity of Haneda 
and Osaka (Itami) Airports (Table 22). From 1971 to 2002 Airport 
Development Plans focused first on the construction of Narita Airport 
and from the 4th Plan onwards the focus was on the development of 
Kansai Airport. 

The central government is responsible for building large international 
airports (the so-called Category I airport), and the objectives of the 
5-Year Airport Development Plans between 1967 and 2002 make the 
focus on major international airports clear (Table 22). Because of 
shortages of funding in the national treasury the 7th Plan was over 7 
years. There is no reference to subsequent airport development plans 
and the government of Japan introduced legislation on private finance 
initiatives (PFI) that permit the private sector to form consortia that can 
bid for concessions to operate major airports. 

Table 22. Policy Objectives Japanese 5-Year Airport Development Plans. 
Source: reproduced from Shibata, 1999, Table 2, p. 131. 

Airport Period Policy Objectives 
Five Year Plans 
First Airport 1967-1970 | To develop Osaka International Airport 
Development Plan and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda 

Airport) due to lack of overall capacities. 
Second Airport 1971-1975 | Development of New Tokyo International 
Development Plan Airport (Narita Airport), improvement 
of Osaka International Airport, and 
development of regional airports. 

Third Airport 1976-1980 | Promotion of works related to development 

Development Plan of airport surrounding areas, development 
of Narita Airport. 

Fourth Airport 1981-1985 | Ultimate completion of Narita Airport (the 

Development Plan first phase of development of which was 

completed in 1978 development of Kansai 
International Airport, and of Haneda 
Airport towards the Tokyo Bay. 

Fifth Airport 1986-1990 | Promotion of developing Narita Airport 
Development Plan and Kansai International Airport, 
continuation of the Fourth Airport 
Development Plan. 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 197 

Airport Period Policy Objectives 
Five Year Plans 
Sixth Airport 1991-1995 | Further promotion of the Fifth Airport 
Development Plan Development Plan. 
Seventh Airport 1996-2002 | Further promotion of the Sixth Airport 
Development Plan Development Plan (both Narita Airport 
and Kansai International Airport were 
commissioned but have not ultimately been 

Major airports (except for Narita and Kansai) are funded through the 
Airport Development Special Account. The main feature of this funding 
mechanism is that most of the money for building airports is accumulated 
from passengers’ fares (and not from the general taxpayer). Passengers 
pay aviation fuel tax and airport charges which are included in airfares. 
This account is funded by airport charges—landing fees, special landing 
fees, navigation charges, aviation fuel tax, subsidies from the General 
Account of the national government and borrowing from government 
investment and loan program (Yamauchi and Ito, 1999, Figure 7, n.p.). 
Funds borrowed from the government will be also repaid by passengers 
in the future. Another characteristic of the funding mechanism is 
its revenue pooling. The revenue received at each airport is brought 
together into the special account and allocated according to the central 
governments planning. 

As noted by Hayashi (2021: 1.1.B) a unique aspect is that Japanese 
airport terminals and car parks were constructed and are owned and 
managed by a private entity or a ‘third sector’ entity (a company jointly 
owned by a local government and private entities). Most of the airports 
in Japan were established and operated by the Ministry of Transport. 
Other modes of ownership involving the private sector have developed 
(as detailed later) because of the shortage of national funding. Funding 
problems have also caused landing charges to be increased to the highest 
level in the world. 

In 2013, the Act for the Operation of Government Controlled Airports 
by Private Sector Entities was enacted to enable the central and local 

198 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

governments to privatise airports through concession. The Ministry 
of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced the Basic 
Policy on the Operation of Government Controlled Airports by Private 
Section Entities (Basic Policy for Airports), which provides for the basic 
framework for all concessions of national airports (TMI Associates, 

Airports in Metropolitan Tokyo 

Three civilian airports serve the Toky6 metropolis (population in 2020 
of about 37.4 million). The oldest is the Ministry of Communications’ 
Haneda Airfield that dates from 1931. After the Second World War, the 
airfield was used solely by the occupying forces before being partially 
returned to Japan in 1952 and fully by 1959. The other international 
airport is located at Narita in Chiba Prefecture and commercial flights 
started there in 1978. Ibaraki Airport started as a military airfield, and is 
a minor regional airport that, today, offers services on a limited number 
of domestic and international routes. 

Ibaraki Airport 

Prior to March 2010 Ibaraki Airport (98 km north of Tokyo Station) 
was known as Hyakuri Airfield. It was first developed by the Imperial 
Japanese Navy in 1937, with much of the land claimed from local 
farmers under the direct orders of Emperor Hirohito. After the end of 
the Pacific War, the locals reclaimed the land and resumed farming. 
The military base was re-opened in 1956 by the Japan Air Self-Defence 
Force. In March 2010, after a 22 billion yen (U.S. $243 million) local and 
national government investment, the airfield was renamed as Ibaraki 
Airport, offering only two routes—an Asiana service to Seoul (Asiana 
Airlines) and to Kobe (Skymark Airlines )—with only 203,070 travelling 
passengers that year. The Ibaraki Airport website (http://www. ibaraki- lists domestic flights to Fukuoka, Kobe, 
Naha and Sapporo (Skymark) and international flights to Shanghai and 
Xi’an (Spring Airlines) and to Taipei (Tiger Air Taiwan). 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 199 

Haneda Airport 

On 13 September 1945, Haneda Airfield was taken over by the U.S. Army 
Air Forces and renamed the Haneda Army Air Base. Projects to expand 
the air base were quickly formulated, with families from neighbouring 
areas being evicted from their homes. After a construction period that 
lasted from October 1945 to June 1946, Haneda Army Air Base had 
expanded to 257.4 hectares. In 1952, a portion of Haneda was returned 
to the Japanese Government, and that portion was named Tokyo 
International Airport so as to establish the first international gateway. 
By 1959, all of Haneda had been returned to the Japanese Government. 

The impoverished state of public finances in post-war Japan allowed 
only the paving the taxiway and apron at Haneda from the national 
budget. To restore the airport as an international gateway, Japan urgently 
had to expand the facilities to be suitable for an airport capable of 
serving Japan’s capital of Tokyo. The Japanese Cabinet decided to build 
a terminal with private capital, and in 1953 Japan Airport Terminal Co., 
Ltd. (JAT) was established through the cooperation of major Japanese 
businesses with capital of 150 million yen. The terminal opened in May 

From that date, 64 significant airport developments (including some 
associated national and global developments) are listed on the Haneda 
Airport Website , where the details of each development can be found 
at —_ 
index.html. Images of the staged development of Haneda Airport 
between 1955 and 2010 can be found in Yamaguchi (2013, Figure 3, p. 11). 
In 1984, Haneda Airport “Okiai-tenkai” expansion project was initiated 
and a pair of parallel runways (A and C) and a single crosswind runway 
(B) were built in stages into Tokyo Bay. In order to create the airport 
islands, dredged clays were used on these offshore expansion projects 
(1984-2007) and the D-runway project (2007-2010) (Watabe and Sassa, 

With extra runway capacity, the international network expanded 
significantly from 18 flights a day to 4 cities to 55 flights a day to 17 cities, 
including the opening of new routes to Europe and to the U.S.A. With 
the opening of the International Passenger Terminal (TIAT) in 2011, the 
number of annual international passengers increased to 7.25 million. 
As a twenty-four-hour international hub, the number of passengers 

200 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

connecting from Japanese regional airports to international flights at 
Haneda increased about four-fold. In addition, an international cargo 
terminal (TIACT), which has advanced functions, was opened. The 
desirability of increasing flights to and from Haneda is now under 
discussion. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport 
and Tourism’s website, the number of international flights of 60,000 per 
year in 2015 are projected to increase to 99,000 per year in 2020. Due 
to the Covid-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions, the total 
passenger traffic dropped from 86.9 million in 2019 to 31.2 million in 
2020 (Gorka, 2021). 

Narita International Airport 

Projections of traffic growth and landing slots at Haneda Airport in the 
1960s indicated there was a need for a second airport to serve the Tokyo 
metropolis. However, the planning and delivery of Japanese airports was 
no longer confined to a dialogue amongst the three tiers of government. 
From the time that the Japanese Government made a formal decision 
on 16 November 1962, and the Ministry of Transport planned the “New 
Tokyo International Airport” of about 2,300 hectares some 70 km from 
Tokyo Railway Station, organised community opposition has dogged 
airport development up to the present day. 

The example of the location of Narita Airport represents the most 
extreme case, probably in its history, of civil disobedience against 
a Japanese government, from within a society that is traditionally 
respectful of hierarchical authority (Andrews, 2016). Whilst community 
consultation on major infrastructure projects was not common practice 
by all governments in the 1960s, the lack of government transparency 
and the failure to address land acquisition adequately have been factors 
that have fuelled trenchant opposition to the development of Narita 
Airport (Bowen, 1975). Aspects of this story still resonate in this third 
decade of the 21st century. 

After investigations of alternative sites in the prefectures of Chiba 
and Ibaraki, The Aviation Council Report to the Minister of Transport 
recommended the Tomisato site (southwest of the finally selected site) 
that was unexpectedly announced by the Chief Cabinet Secretary, 
Tomisaburo Hashimoto, at a press conference. Opposition movements 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 201 

had already risen in each of the potential airport sites, such as the 
Tomisato-Yachimata Anti-Airport Union formed in 1963. Local farmers 
expressed outrage at the one-sided nature of the decision and allied 
with political opposition parties—the Japanese Communist Party and 
the Social Democratic Party of Japan. By 1966 opposition to the proposal 
of building an airport still remained strong. 

The secretive side of Japanese politics emerged with the Sato 
Cabinet (Sato Eisaku, Prime Minister 1964-1972) colluding with the 
Transport Vice-Minister, Wakasa Tokuji, the Liberal Democratic Party 
Vice-President, Kawashima Shdjiro and the Chiba Prefectural Mayor, 
Tomono Taketo, to move the construction site 4 km to the northeast onto 
the Goryd Farm—a state-owned tract of land that once had been in the 
ownership of the Imperial Family. The Cabinet anticipated—incorrectly 
as events turned out—that the impoverished farming communities of 
Sanrizuka would sell their land and be compensated with a “fair” price 
as was the law (Lemay-Fruchter, 2021). As it transpired, the Goryo 
Farmland comprised less than 40 per cent of the area needed for the 
airport plan so a major program of land acquisition from the public was 
still required. 

On 22 June 1966, the Liberal Party Prime Minister, Sato Eisaku, after 
briefing prefectural officials, held a broadcast conference with Mayor 
Tomon6 Taketo regarding the Sanrizuka plan. As no public consultation 
had taken place, Sanrizuka and Shibayama residents learnt of the 
decision from the broadcast. Furious opposition broke out amongst 
frustrated communities, as had previously occurred in Tomisato. The 
opposition was led by the Sanrizuka-Shibayama United Opposition 
League against Construction of the Narita Airport (=#ReWBSaS 
72 XT) ), which locals formed under the leadership of government 
opposition parties. 

At its height, the ‘union’ mobilised 17,500 people for a general rally, 
while thousands of riot police were brought in on several occasions. 
The “union” became increasingly radicalised and the struggle resulted 
in significant delays in the opening of the airport, as well as deaths 
on both sides (known as the Toho Jujiro Incident). The government 
originally tried to purchase land with the landowners’ agreement. 
However, as a substantial number of landowners refused to sell their 
land, the government decided in 1971 to legally evict residents which 
only prompted more protests. As of 2020, there remain five households 

202 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

on the airport property with one owner recently reported to have turned 
down U.S. $1.6 million for the purchase of his land (Leff, 2020). 

Narita Airport finally opened on 20 May 1978. The opening day 
attracted a union rally estimated at 22,000 people who declared a 
continuing campaign of resistance against the airport. Over 500 guerrilla 
actions have taken place against Narita airport since its opening in 1978 
(Leff, 2020). For instance, there were clashes between riot police and 
protesters, and numerous attempts of arson targeted at fuel pipelines. 
However, with Narita Airport operational, and the chance of closing 
it remote, the defiance of the union movement gradually eroded, and 
internal fractures split the union movement, severely damaging its 
credibility and influence. In addition, the government started adopting 
a more conciliatory approach in the 1990s, commencing with a 
stakeholder symposium on various airport issues. In 1995, the (then) 
Prime Minister, Murayama Tomiichi (June 1994~January 1996 as Head 
of Japanese Socialist Party), issued an apology to the affected residents. 

The final site area of Narita International Airport was reduced to 
1,040 hectares that meant that the northerly runway had to be reduced 
to 2,600 metres in length. In March 2012 the introduction of the 
simultaneous parallel takeoff and landing system, together with two 
runways of length 2,500 metres, increased the number of annual aircraft 
slots to 250,000. In 2003, the Japanese Government passed the Narita 
International Airport Corporation Act (XA EIRRS AtRASt4) that 
privatised the airport. On 1 April 2004, the New Tokyo International 
Airport was officially renamed Narita International Airport. Its site plan 
can be found at Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, 
Transport and Tourism (2012: 23). 

According to the Civil Aviation Bureau website the aim of Narita 
International Airport is to strengthen the international aviation network 
to make the airport a major hub in Asia by expanding domestic feeder 
lines, offering more aviation services, such as low-cost carriers (Jetstar 
Japan and AirAsia Japan) and business jets, and increasing terminal 
and parking capacity. The airport handled 44.3 million passengers in 
2019, dropping to 10.5 million in 2020 (Gorka, 2021). 

The Japanese Government is in the process of boosting Narita 
International Airport as an international hub. The actions by Narita 
International Airport Corporation (2021) include from the winter of 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 203 

2019: curfew restrictions were removed to allow aircraft to take off and 
land up to midnight; 146 additional slots between 21.00 and 24.00 hours; 
and reconfiguring rapid exit taxiways to allow four more flights each 
hour. The current short runway is to be lengthened to 3,500 metres. The 
construction of this third runway, at a cost of some US. $4.6 billion, 
is expected to be completed by 2030 (Ellis, 2019: 1). The new runway 
increases the annual number of airport slots from the current 300,000 to 
500,000 or from 72 hourly slots to 98 hourly slots. 

Airports in the Osaka Region 

There are three major airports in the Osaka region located in Kobe, 
Osaka Itami and Kansai that collectively handled about 47 million 
passengers in 2019. Today, they are managed and operated by a private- 
sector consortium led by VINCHI airports (Headquarters in Paris) 
but the historical path of each airport has differed. Itami (Osaka No. 
2 Airfield) was a compromise location involving the city governments 
of Osaka and Kobe, but, from the late 1930s, it was predominantly a 
military facility—first by the Japanese armed forces then by the U.S. 
occupying forces until being returned to the Japanese Government in 
1959 and then used for civilian flights. 

Kobe and Kansai are relatively new airports constructed in Osaka 
Bay (Yukawa and Matsubara, 2019, Figure 1, n.p.). The introduction of 
jet aircraft, and the associated noise, prompted community action that 
ultimately led to the construction of Kansai airport built in Osaka Bay 
that was operational from 1994. The City of Kobe continued to lobby 
for its own airport and the Japanese Government stimulus packages 
following the Great Hanshin Earthquake of January 1995 provided an 
opportunity to construct a single runway airport on an artificial island 
in Osaka Bay. 

There are two other airports in the Osaka region to consider: the first 
because of its association with the early years of civil aviation in Japan; 
the second because it is one example of the numerous small airports 
scattered across the Japanese archipelago. Seaplanes took off from the 
waters off Ohama Coast, near Sakai, and offered passenger services 
through Kizugawa Airfield (at the mouth of the Kizu River that empties 
into Osaka Bay) then onto Shikoki Island. Yao Airport is a small general 
aviation airport that offers some scenic and charter flights. 

204 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Kizugawa Airfield 

From 1923, seaplanes started taking off and landing in the waters at the 
mouth of the Kizu River with flights to and from Tokushima, Takamatsu, 
Matsuyama (Shikoki) and Beppu (Kytisha). With the growing demand 
for mail and cargo in the Osaka region, a private airfield on land was 
required. The Ministry of Communications Aviation Bureau selected 
the wetland at the mouth of the Kizu River for the site to construct 
the 39-hectare airfield that was 14 km south of Osaka Railway Station 
(Wikipedia Japan, /wiki/7N}#) | |FR{TH). 

The airfield, built by the Ministry of Communication as its first 
aerodrome project in Japan, was put into service in 1929 when Japan 
Air Transport opened flights to the Tachikawa Army Airfield (Tokyo) 
and the Tachiarai Army Airfield in Fukuoka. In 1938, Kizugawa was 
equipped with a runway length of 720 metres, and the airport was, 
at the time, the largest aviation base in Japan. Civil flight operations 
were moved to Osaka No. 2 Airfield (Itami) as the surrounding area 
had become industrialised, with chimneys causing obstacles to flight 
manoeuvres, and problems with heavy fog. The Japanese military 
continued to use the airfield. 

Osaka No. | Airfield (Yamato River Estuary) 

In 1931, the City of Osaka formulated a landfill plan on the estuary 
of the Yamato River for a new airfield site (Osaka No. 1 Airfield), 
and, two years later, construction started. It was completed in 1939. 
However, the chairman of the Kobe Business Association objected on 
the grounds that it was too far away to serve Kobe. The Osaka Chamber 
of Commerce and Industry defended its locational decision until finally 
the Japanese Government stepped in, arguing that the location was 
unsuitable for an international airfield and prone to thick fog. The City 
of Osaka abandoned its plan in 1942 (Hashizumi, 2004), and national 
and prefectural governments worked collaboratively on a more suitable 
airfield location. 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 205 

Osaka No.2 Airfield (Itami) 

As a compromise solution brokered by the Japanese Government, 
construction on Osaka No. 2 Airfield (Itami) began in July 1936 on a 
53-hectare site that was about 10 km north of Osaka Railway Station 
and 36 km east of Kébe city centre. It opened as No. 2 Osaka Airfield (# 
= ARIK) in 1939. Most of the land is located in Hydgo Prefecture 
(Itami City) but the remaining portion is in Osaka Prefecture (cities of 
Toyonaka and Ikeda). The terminal complex is located today in all three 
of these cities. Initially, the airport was used primarily by the Imperial 
Japanese Army. Its military function continued when occupation forces 
took over the airfield in 1945, expanding it to 221 hectares, and renaming 
it the U.S. Itami Air Base. The airfield was used extensively by U.S. forces 
during the Korean War (June 1950-July 1953). 

Following its return to Japanese control in March 1959 it was 
renamed Osaka Airport. The Japanese government planned an airport 
expansion project with an additional 82.5 hectares of land so that the 
runways could accommodate the landing and take-off of jet aircraft. 
Despite some protests from locals, the plan was approved by the three 
neighbouring local government assemblies between 1960 and 1961 with 
strong backing from local business groups. The aviation industry was 
also supportive because it was anxious to compete with the high-speed 
rail services that opened between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka in 1964. 

Jet flights began on 1 June 1964 and that immediately triggered more 
complaints from nearby residents about jet aircraft noise (Yukawa and 
Matsubara, 2019, n.p.). Further protests occurred in 1966 when the 
government compulsorily purchased land to extend the runway. The 
main runway at Osaka Airport was completed in 1970 and served major 
international airlines such as Pan Am, British Airways, Cathay Pacific 
and Air India. With the rapid growth of the Japanese economy, the 
areas around Osaka Airport had become a residential commuter-belt 
to Osaka. 

Dissatisfied local residents became organised and sued the 
managing airport organisation—the national government—demanding 
compensation for aircraft noise-related damage (exacerbated by the U.S. 
Armed Forces using the airport for aircraft maintenance and re-fuelling) 
and the suspension of night-time flights. In addition to this lawsuit, 

206 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

over 20,000 local residents wanted the closure of the airport on grounds 
of ‘environmental pollution’. The injunction of night flights was not 
granted by the Supreme Court after 6 years of deliberations, but the 
national government voluntarily restricted the airport operating hours 
to between 07.00 and 21.00 hours. 

By the mid-1970s, the airport was subject to extensive slot restrictions, 
with operations limited to 200 jets and 170 propeller aircraft per day, and 
no take-offs or landings allowed after 21.00 hours. These restrictions led 
the major domestic airlines to adopt more widebody aircraft that caused 
additional concern amongst locals who protested against the increased 
aircraft noise and the greater danger of a crash event. 

Plans were mooted to close Osaka Itami Airport following the 
opening of Kansai Airport in 1994, but nearby communities opposed 
such a move because of the likely job losses. The Japanese Government 
proposed downgrading Osaka Itami Airport’s status to a second-class 
airport. However, that would have imposed on local governments the 
payment of one-third of the airport’s operating costs and this generated 
more protests from the surrounding local governments. The proposal to 
close Osaka Itami Airport was withdrawn. 

Kansai International Airport 

In the late 1960s, the Kansai region was losing trade, development, and 
firms to the rapidly growing Toky6 region. To help make Osaka and 
Kobe more attractive, both city governments proposed the construction 
of a new international airport to rival the then second airport for Tokyo 
at Narita. Osaka Itami Airport was facing capacity constraints as air 
traffic boomed along with economic growth. At first, developers, and 
some government officials, wanted to build the new airport near Kobe 
but the City of Kobe Government rejected a plan for a large international 

In 1971, the Ministry of Transport commissioned a study into the 
location of a new airport to accommodate growing passenger demand 
from Osaka and to eliminate the noise issue at Osaka Itami Airport. The 
planning objective of Kansai Airport was to resolve the environmental 
noise problem at Osaka Itami Airport. Out of the five feasible sites in 
the Osaka Bay area, Senshu, the most southern location, was selected 
but opposition from residents forced the airport site 5 km offshore on 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 207 

reclaimed land (Yamaguchi, 2013: 16). The plan was for an artificial 
island that would be 4,000 metres long and 2.5 km wide (1,000 hectares). 
Innovative engineering was required for solid foundations for the 
runways and the built structures, and building structures to withstand 
typhoons, waves and earthquakes. 

The airport cost over U.S. $20 billion to build. Construction started in 
1987, and, once the island had been completed and the compacted soils 
allowed to settle, the airport construction began, taking an additional 
four years. The airport has two parallel runways (built by 1994 and 
2007, respectively), two terminals and a cargo facility. To connect the 
island with the mainland, a 3-km long bridge was built at a cost of U.S. 
$1 billion (Cummins, 2020). It is worth noting that advances in aircraft 
engine technology had shrunk the footprint of the noise contours by the 
time Kansai Airport was opened in 1994 so that it would have had been 
possible to have built it closer to the shore, thereby reducing the costs of 
ground transport access. 

The financial scheme to construct Kansai Airport involved not only 
central and local governments but also the private sector. This reflected 
Japanese Government economic policy during 1980s to endorse 
“Minkatsu”—private finance initiative (PFI)—in building social 
infrastructure, suchas city halls. By international comparisons, Japan was 
slow to extend PFI to economic infrastructure such as airports. In 2012, 
in order to slash the size of government debt, the Japanese Government 
passed a law to establish the New Kansai International Airport Corporation 
(NKIAC) and to integrate Kansai Airport and Osaka Itami Airport in 
order to pool the cash-flows together, to increase corporate value by 
strategic investment, and to market the operational right of the two 
airports to competing consortia. In September 2013, NKIAC announced 
that it would acquire Osaka Airport Terminal Co. for 27.8 billion yen 
(about U.S. $262 million). 

As pointed out by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (2021), a change in 
the PFI Law made the concession-style public-private partnership (PPP) 
possible but a tailoring of the PFI framework was required to comply 
with international investors’ expectations. NKIAC conducted a public 
tender to sell the operating rights for the two airports in May 2015. The 
sole bidder for the two airports on a 45-year concession was a consortium 
led by VINCI Airports (40 per cent), with ORIX Corporation, a Japanese 
integrated financial services company (40 per cent) and the remaining 

208 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

20 per cent by Hankyii Hanshin Holdings and Panasonic (www.vinci- and other investors.? The contract was signed on 15 
December 2015. According to a press release by VINCI Airports (2017), 
the consortium was the preferred bidder for the 42-year Kobe Airport 
concession contact—a bid that was also successful. 

Kobe Airport 

The history of Kobe Airport is a story of local lobbying for an airport 
closer to Kébe as the need for an alternative to Osaka Itami Airport 
became apparent, as discussed above. In 1971, the Kobe City Government 
proposed an airport adjacent to Port Island—an artificial island 
constructed south of Sunnomiya Station in Osaka Bay between 1966 and 
1984 for maritime, educational, commercial and recreational uses. The 
plan called for six runways more than 3,000 metres in length built on a 
1,100-hectare artificial island. However, the Mayor of Kobe, Miyazaki 
Tatsuo, declared his opposition to building such a large airport that was 
located so close to the city. 

He was re-elected mayor in 1973 by defeating a candidate whose 
manifesto supported the airport development. Kobe businesses were 
strong supporters of an airport and pressed the city government for a 
smaller facility with only one 3,000-metre long runway. This plan was 
submitted to the Ministry of Transport in 1982 as an alternative to the 
Kansai Airport proposal that was being supported by the Osaka and 
Wakayama prefectural governments. After the national government 
rejected the Kobe proposal, the Hyogo Prefectural Government switched 
its support in 1984 for the Kansai Airport proposal. 

3 The full list of investors are: ASICS Corporation; Iwatani Corporation; Osaka Gas 
Co., Ltd.; Obayashi Corporation; OMRON Corporation; The Kansai Electric Power 
Company, Incorporated; Kintetsu Group Holding Co., Ltd.; Keihan Holdings 
Co.,Ltd.; Suntory Holdings Limited; JTB Corp.; Sekisui House, Ltd.; Daikin 
Industries, Ltd.; Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd.; Takenaka Corporation; Nankai 
Electric Railway Co., Ltd.; Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Cerporation; 
Panasonic Corporation; Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, Inc.; Rengo Co., Ltd.; The 
Senshu Ikeda Bank, Ltd.; Kiyo Holdings, Inc.; The Bank of Kyoto, Ltd.; The Shiga 
Bank, Ltd.; The Nanto Bank, Ltd.; Nippon Life Insurance Company; Mizuho 
Bank, Ltd.; Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited; MUFG Bank, Ltd.; Resona Bank, 
Limited; and the Private Finance Initiative Promotion Corporation of Japan (http:// 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 209 

In 1985, the city and prefecture decided to independently fund 
the construction of its own airport, but its construction was stalled by 
a lack of funding. On January 1995, a 7.2 magnitude (Richter scale) 
earthquake with an epicentre at nearby Awaji Island hit the region 
causing loss of life, with deaths amounting to 4,571 in Kobe alone (The 
City of Kobe, 2009: 1). There was substantial damage to buildings, 
infrastructure (Chung, 1996, Chapter 4) and the three major airports in 
the region (Chung, 1996: 260-266). To aid the recovery of a devastated 
local economy the Japanese Government used infrastructure spending 
as a stimulus package. 

Despite ongoing opposition from sections of the community, there 
remained support for the airport plan. At the 1997 mayoral election, 
the pro-airport coalition won a narrow victory over the anti-airport 
coalition. Construction began in September 1999, but the political 
controversy continued: 87,000 signatures were collected in a petition to 
dismiss the Mayor in 2000. A citizen lawsuit to cancel the project was 
dismissed in 2004. The airport finally opened on 16 February 2006 at a 
cost of U.S. $3 billion. 

In 2013, the Kobe mayor, Yada Tatsuo, endorsed a proposal to 
consolidate the management of the three Kansai region airports by 
adding Kobe Airport to the planned sale in 2014 of operating concessions 
at Osaka Itami and Kansai airports. Accordingly, VINCI Airports added 
Kobe Airport to its management and operations portfolio in April 
2018. Agreement on the gradual expansion of domestic flight slots and 
operating hours at Kobe with a maximum daily aircraft movement of 
80, and operation hours were extended from 7:00 to 23:00 hours from 
May 2019.* 

Yao Airport 

Yao airport started as the Hanshin Aviation School in 1938. Two years 
later, the airfield was seized by the army as the Taisho Airfield and was 
expanded. After the Second World War, the occupation forces called 
it the Hanshin Airfield before it was returned to Japanese control. Yao 
airport, operated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism, is located 15 km southeast of Osaka Railway Station and it 

4 — /en/company-profile/about-airports/kobe.html 

210 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

functions both as a general aviation airport and as a base for the Japan 
Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF Camp Yao). Several small airline 
carriers offer sightseeing and charter flights, including Asahi Airlines 
and Hankyia Airlines (owned by Hankyi Electric Railway Company). 
Established in 1966, the First Flying Co., Ltd. is an air carrier based at 
Yao Airport. It operates inter-island passenger services in Okinawa and 
irregular passenger services to the Hiroshima-Nishi airport. 

Airports in the Nagoya Region 

Nagoya’s first airport, constructed in 1944, was the Komaki Airport used 
by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service. It was heavily damaged by 
allied bombs during the Pacific War, rebuilt by the allies as their military 
base before being returned to the Japan Government in 1957. It was 
Nagoya’s main airport until the opening of Chiibu Centrair International 
Airport in 2005, located in Ise Bay some 47 km south of Nagoya Railway 

Komaki Airfield/Nagoya Airfield/Nagoya Airport 

In 1944, Komaki Airfield was developed 12 km north of Nagoya Railway 
Station for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, but, during the 
Pacific War, it was bombed heavily that year and also during the first half 
of the next year. The airfield was taken over by the American occupation 
forces and renamed Nagoya Air Base when it was reconstructed. In 
May 1946, the base became the Headquarters of the Fifth Air Force that 
controlled air force occupation units throughout Japan. Nagoya Air 
Base was returned to the Japanese Government in July 1957. 

Nagoya Airport served as the main airport for Nagoya until the 
opening of Chibu Centrair International Airport in 2005. During the 
1980s and early 1990s, Nagoya Airport was a busy international airport 
because of the overflow from Japan’s other international airports. The 
airport was constrained by its location in a residential area of Aichi 
Prefecture that restricted the number of daily flights and imposed a 
night-time curfew. It lost some business in 1994 with the opening of 
Kansai Airport that was some 210 km away. 

On 17 February 2005, nearly all of Nagoya Airport’s commercial 
transport flights moved to Chibu Centrair International Airport and 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 211 

it was renamed Nagoya Airfield. Today, Aichi Prefecture manages the 
airport facilities and regularly handles international business flights 
(with a dedicated business aviation terminal), regional services, general 
aviation and the Japan Air-Self-Defense Force. 

Chuibu Centrair International Airport 

The Nagoya region has a population of about 10 million and is a 
major manufacturing centre, with the headquarters and production 
facilities of the Toyota Motor Corporation and production facilities for 
Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. Local business 
groups lobbied government for a new airport, especially for 24-hour 
cargo operations. The airport’s operator is a consortium comprising the 
national and local governments and over 200 Japanese companies. The 
consortium, known as the Central Japan International Airport Company 
(CJIAC), was appointed by the Japanese Government in July 1998 to 
be the constructing and managing body of Centrair airport. There were 
extensive protests over the project’s necessity by local environmentalists 
and fishermen. Airport construction started in August 2000. 

Functioning as a new air gateway to the central region of Japan, the 
airport was built as an artificial island (the land-reclamation scheme 
started in 2001 and was completed by the Spring of 2003) in shallow 
water located off the eastern shore of Ise Bay near Tokoname. The project 
was delivered 100 billion yen under the budget of U.S. $7.3 billion and 
was opened, on schedule, in March 2005. The island, constructed by 
Penta-Ocean Construction Co, was initially designed to allow for one 
large runway. The airport occupies an area of 4.3 km by 1.9 kim on the 
island (817 hectares), leaving the remaining space for local wildlife. A 
second runway was added later (Airport Technology, 2021). 

The passenger terminal was designed by a joint venture consortium. 
CJIAC commissioned four construction companies to participate in the 
planning, design and survey of the passenger terminal area. The four 
companies were two Japanese companies, Nikken Sekkei Ltd and Azusa 
Sekkei Co., Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum Inc of the U.S.A. and 
Bovis Program Management Japan Inc. The English civil engineering 
firm, Arup, was responsible for structural and faced engineering of the 

212 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Chtbu Centrair International Airport achieved its policy objectives 
with the transfer of flights from Nagoya Airport and a new airport with 
no curfew restrictions that has allowed the passenger business to grow. 
The sharp downturn in airline patronage in 2020 was a result of the 
Covid-19 global pandemic that curtailed domestic and international 
travel with governments of countries imposing lockdowns, quarantines 
and travel restrictions and airlines substantially cutting passenger 
services (ICAO, 2021; OECD, 2020). In Japan, in the week 10-16, 2020, 
the air travel sales volume registered a decline of 93 per cent compared to 
the equivalent weeks of the previous year. This constituted a decline of 
over 90 per cent for eleven weeks in succession since the global outbreak 
of the coronavirus pandemic (Statistica, 2020). 

Japanese Airport Terminals 

The laws on airport development in Japan specify that the private 
sector may be involved in the planning, construction, management 
and operations of terminals and car parking. This private entity, or a 
‘third sector’ entity (a company jointly owned by a local government 
and private entities). One example of this is at Haneda Airport where 
the Japan Airport Terminal Company (JAT) has been active since 1953, 
and, at other major airports, since 1973. The major developments that 
have been initiated by JAT at Haneda are summarised in Table 23. 
Major capital works projects include the international terminal (1970), 
its extension (2002), terminal 2 (2004), its extension (2010), a new 
international terminal (2010) and the P4 parking structure (2010). 

Table 23. Major Developments of Terminals and Parking, Haneda and 
Narita Airports by Japanese Airport Terminals (JAT). 
Source: based on Japan Airport Terminal Co, Ltd, /history.html. 

Date Airport Terminal Development 

July JAT was established with ¥ 150 million in private capital 
1953 and started planning for terminal building projects 

May Completed and opened terminal building and started rental 
1955 and merchandise sales operations 

May Completed new international arrival terminal building 


7. Civil Aviation and Airports 


Date Airport Terminal Development 

Feb. Started commissioned management and maintenance of 

1973 terminal building at Narita International Airport 

Mar. Opened Narita Office at Narita International Airport 


May Started duty-free and other merchandise sales, hotel 

1978 reservation services and other operations at newly opened 
Narita International Airport 

Sep. Started operation of Terminal 1 


July Opened Osaka Office at Kansai International Airport 


Mar. Started operation of Haneda International (passenger) 

1998 Terminal 

May Completed extension work on Haneda International 

2002 (passenger) Terminal 

Dec. Started operation of Terminal 2 


Feb. Opened Chibu Office at newly opened Central Japan 

2005 International Airport. Started wholesale of duty-free goods 
at newly opened Central Japan International Airport 

Feb. Started operation of South Pier in Terminal 2 


Aug. Started operation of complete P4 parking structure 


Aug. Completed extension of Haneda Terminal 2 in Phase IIT 

2010 plan 

Oct. Started operation of extended south part of Haneda 

2010 Terminal 2 

Oct. Started operation of new International Terminal (PFI 

2010 project) 

Nov. Completed renovation of Haneda Terminal 1 


Apr. Started operation of extended South Pier in Haneda 

2013 Terminal 2 

Terminal management has demonstrated its ability to respond to external 
events. For example, Tokyo International Air Terminal Co., Ltd. introduced 

a safety measure for the Covid-19 outbreak for international departure 

process at Haneda/Terminal 3—an automated facility where passengers can 
scan their boarding passes by themselves and pass through the gate to the 
aircraft in accordance with the digital sign or flapper doors (https://tokyo- 

214 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The privatisation of the three airports in the Kobe-Osaka region gave 
VINCHI Airports the responsibility for developing terminal space and 
other functions at those airports. Details of the seven Kansai Airports’ 
companies involved in terminal operations are listed on the airport 
website (Table 24). They include retail, security, firefighting, passenger 
information, car park management, construction and maintenance, 
heating and cooling and hotels. 

Table 24. Kansai Airports and Group Companies and the Business Scope 
of Terminal Services. 
Source: reproduced from http: // 

Retail: duty-free, other retail, F&B 
New company] a y ' AS: 
1 [ ay p 4 Services: currency exchange, advertising, insurance, 
Kansai Airports Retail & Services lounge operation 
Security, fire fighting, passenger information, car park 
management, cleaning, baggage cart service, daily 

2 [New company] 
Kansai Airports Operation Services 

3 [New company] 

Kansai Airports Technical Services Maintenance, construction projects, IT services 

4 CKTS Co., Ltd. Passenger, ramp & cargo handling, aircraft maintenance 
*No change to company name; Business scope changed support, vehicle maintenance 

KIA Heating & Cooling Supply Co., Ltd. 

5 *No change to company name & business scope Heat supply 
World Air Passenger Service Co., Ltd. 

6 *No change to company name; Business scope changed Hotel (ITAMI), temp staffing 

7 Kansai Airports Kobe Operation, maintenance and management of Kobe 
*No change to company name & business scope Airport 

Airport Ground Transport Access 

The international airports located in the three major conurbations of 
the case study area—Chiibu, Osaka and Toéky6—are well connected by 
ground access to their hinterlands, with the exception of Osaka Itami 
Airport. The Chiibu Centrair Airport station is owned by Central Japan 
International Airport Line Company, Ltd. and leased to the private 
railway operator, Meitetsu, whose services connect to the Tokomane 
railway line then on to Jingu-mae in Nagoya. The airport is also 
connected to Nagoya Station by the Nagoya Railroad. The fastest train 
takes 29 minutes (using p-SKY). 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 215 

Kansai Airport has two railway company services: JR West that 
connects to Osaka Station (about 70 minutes) via Tenndji; and the 
short Nankai-Kuko line to Izumisano Station operated by the Nankai 
Electric Railway Company. The Port Liner rail connects Kobe Airport 
to Sannomiya Station, Kobe, in 18 minutes. Osaka Itami Airport access 
by rail is complicated and depends on the destination. The airport is 
connected by a monorail to Hotarugaike Station that has a plethora of 
railway companies serving the Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto areas (https:// jp/en/access/ train). 

There are two rail options to get to and from Narita International 
Airport. There are the railway services to Tokyo Station on the JR East 
Narita Express which takes about an hour. The alternative route to Toky6 
is to take the Keisei Electric Railway Express Skyliner to Ueno Station 
(with connecting Shinkansen services) which takes forty-one minutes 
(https: // ). 
Haneda Airport is directly connected to the Keikyii Line and from 
Terminal 3 to Shinagawa (where there is a Shinkansen station) which 
takes thirteen minutes on the limited express service. Also from Terminal 
3 the Tokyo Monorail Line takes thirteen minutes to Hamamatsu-cho 
Station (https: // 


Civil aviation is subject to international technical and safety standards 
such as those issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation 
(ICAO) and to bilateral agreements on air services; Japan is no 
exception. The country was a signatory to the 1919 International 
Convention Relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation and signed 
its first bilateral airline agreement with the U.S.A. in 1952, followed 
by similarly structured agreements with other countries. Today, the 
manufacture of passenger jet aircraft is dominated by two overseas 
companies—Boeing and Airbus. In the early years of aviation in 
Japan, civilian aircraft were imported from France (Maurice Farman 
and Curtis float biplanes), the Netherlands (Fokker) and the U.S.A. 
(Douglas DC-2). Later, the Douglas DC-3 was manufactured in Japan 
under licence and local companies—Mitsubishi and Nakajima—made 
small civilian planes. 

216 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The Japanese governments and the military jointly promoted aviation 
in the late 1910s to the late 1930s. The navy formed The Committee for 
Naval Aeronautic Research and, in 1916, the Japanese Imperial Navy 
initiated the land-based, naval air stations and flying units. Three years 
later, the Ministry of War established a Special Aeronautical Committee 
to promote and regulate all civil aviation enterprises through the Air 
Navigation Law of April 1921. 

Three private-sector airlines offered domestic, regional services 
until they were nationalised in late 1928 as the national flag carrier, the 
Japan Air Transport Corporation, under the control of the Ministry of 
Communications. The route network grew along with the territorial 
expansion of the Japanese Empire. With the defeat of Japan in the Pacific 
War civilian air transport did not resume until 1952 with the national 
carrier re-branded as Japan Airlines (JAL), which operated domestically 
and international until its privatisation in 1987. 

The U.S. Occupation Forces used Japanese airfields in the 1940s 
and 1950s and promoted to the Japanese Government the concept 
of airline competition. By the mid-1960s, there were four Japanese 
airline companies: JAL; ANA; Japan Domestic Airlines (JDA); and Toa 
Airways (TA). A Cabinet Meeting Resolution of 1970 “Concerning 
Airline Operations” restructured the industry, and, in September 
1985, the Minister of Transport introduced partial deregulation of 
the industry and further deregulation in 1997. The impacts of these 
policies on new entrants into the airline business are summarised in 
Table 25. 

Table 25. Summary of Institutions and Organisations—Japanese Aviation 
and Airports. 
Source: Author. 

Industry Function Institution Organisation 
International Convention | Government of Japan 
Regulation of Aerial (1919) 
Air Navigation Law Ministry of War (1921) 
Aeronautical Law Ministry of Transport 


7. Civil Aviation and Airports 217 

Industry Function Institution Organisation 
Aerodrome Development | Ministry of Transport 
Law / Airport (1952; 1956) 
Development Law 
Airlines Japan Air Transport Japan Air Transport 

Corporation (1928-38), | Institute (1921-29); 
Greater Japan Airways All Nippon Airways 
1938-45), Japan Airlines | (1952) ; Low-cost 
1951-1987); Manchuku6 | carriers, e.g. Skymark 

Aviation Company Airlines (1998-); 
1932-45) Jetstar Japan (2012-) 
Airports Ministry of Chubu Centrair 
Communications; (2005-); 
Ministry of Transport; 

Kansai (2015-); Osaka 
Itami (2015—); Kobe 
(2017-); Hiroshima 

MLIT, e.g. Haneda 
1931-); Narita Airport 
1978-); Osaka Itami 

1959-2015); Kobe 202r) 
2006-2017); Nagoya 
Airport (1957-2005); 
Kansai (1994-2015) 
Airport Terminals and Prefecture/City Japan Airport 
Parking Governments and private | Terminal Co. (1953-); 
sector at most terminals | VINCHI Airports 

Japan signed open skies treaties with Korea and the U.S.A. in 2010, with 
Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan in 2011, and with 
China in August 2012. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport 
and Tourism progressively liberalised air charter services. In December 
2008, it introduced measures to allow foreign airlines to operate charters 
between Japan and a third country without the permission of Japanese 
airlines. This spawned low-cost carriers (LCC) that has driven domestic 
and international passenger demand that then required more airport 

Airport planning and construction have been in the hands of 
governments in Japan. Pre-1945, the airfields were shared between the 
military and civilian airlines. In 1930, the Ministry of Communications 
purchased a 48-hectare piece of private land in Haneda on Tokyo Bay 

218 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

and constructed a new civilian airfield that handled flights to and from 
various airfields in Japan, in Korea, and in the puppet state of Manchuria. 
With the resumption of civilian aviation the Japanese Government 
enacted the Aerodrome Development Law (1952) with Japanese airports 
being regulated by the Aeronautical Law (1952) with regard to safety, 
the Noise Prevention Law (1967) with regard to environmental noise and 
the Airport Development Law (1956) with regard airport ownership and 
airport funding. 

The specific details of airport construction, development and 
funding (in more recent years, using a concession model of financing 
from the private sector) have been explained using a range of airport 
classifications in the Chibu, Osaka and Tokyé metropolitan regions 
(with a combined population of about 82 million). 

The unique aspect of the Airport Development Law of 1956 is that 
Japanese airport terminals and car parks were constructed and are owned 
and managed by a company jointly owned by a local government and 
private entities. The case study of the Japan Airport Terminal Company 
(JAT) describes how the private company has been active since 1953 at 
Haneda Airport and at other major airports since 1973. 

A theme throughout this book has been the relative role of the state 
institutions when compared with private-sector organisations in the 
planning, construction and operations of transport infrastructure and 
services. In the case of aviation and airports, Table 25 has summarised 
some of the main events in Japanese aviation and airport history and 
classifies the main actors as institutions or organisations. Araki (n.d.: 
3) has explained, for all Japanese airports, the ownership—whether 
government or private sector—of facilities (runways, taxiways and 
aprons), terminals and air traffic control. The aviation industry has 
always been regulated, and policies are formulated by committees so 
there is less opportunity for individuals to make substantial contributions 
to the historical evolution of Japanese airports and air services. 

The characteristics of Japanese airport rail connections are that train 
services are integrated into airport design and layout and furthermore 
these services provide convenient transfers onto the high-speed railway 
network that now covers a large portion of the main Japanese islands. 
The integration of transport with land uses (for example, express rail 
services and airports) is a policy issue that has tested governments 

7. Civil Aviation and Airports 219 

in developed countries since the late 1960s. The next chapter of this 
book will examine how Japanese governments have approached the 
challenges of such integration with particular reference to the Tokyo 


Airport Technology (2021) “Centrair (NGO/RJGG)”, https://www.airport- 

Andrews, W. (2016) Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and 
Counterculture from 1945 to Fukushima. Hurst & Co., London. 

Araki, Emiko (n.d.) “Current Approaches Toward Further Enhancement of 
Airport Management in Japan”. Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of 
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tokyo. 

Aviation Strategy (1999) “Japanese Deregulation: Skymark and Air Do Jolt JAL, 
ANA and JAS.” Aviation Strategy, 17, March, 14-17. 

Bowen, R. W. (1975) “The Narita Conflict”, Asian Survey, 15 (7), 598-615. 

Century of Flight (n.d.) “Early Japanese Civilian Aviation”, Airlines and Airliners, 
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Chung, R. (ed.) (1996) “The January 17, 1995 Hyogoku-Nanbu (Kobe) 
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8. Urban Planning Institutions 
and the Integration of Land Use 
and Transport 

Transport planning and land-use planning are not separate activities but 
should be performed by a single department as an ongoing process. 

Sharp, 1970 


In previous chapters, institutional and organisational transformations 
were examined from a perspective of the historical delivery of 
infrastructure and services for ports, canals, roads, railways and airports. 
In contrast, this chapter is about institutions and organisations that plan 
for future transport together with their adjacent land uses. For long-term 
future transport infrastructure development, there is a need to consider 
land use and transport as an “integrated planning process” (Buchanan, 
1963; Sharp, 1970). Therefore, this chapter explores some examples of 
how Japan has responded to this challenge of a comprehensive approach 
to land-use and transport developments and the planning institutions 
that have guided such developments. 

Watanabe (1980: 63) points out the importance of developing 
planning systems that are based on specific socio-historical conditions 
and cites Japan as important case studies, where, in a short space of time, 
feudal castle towns were supplanted by steel and skyscrapers. From 
ancient times, Japanese rulers had knowledge transmitted from China 
as to the main principles in the layout of capital cities (Hein, 2016), 
and, during the early Edo period, Tokugawa Ieyasu drew on geomancy 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // 

224 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

in developing his new castle town with its distinctive arrangement of 
functional areas, largely to control the different classes in society (Hamp, 
2019: 2-4). However, it was not until the modern period following the 
Meiji Restoration that government institutions to control, and direct, 
urban development were established based on overseas experiences. 

The early institutional initiatives were confined to the new capital 
of Tokyo. Institutional arrangements had also to cope with the 
reconstruction of cities, especially after the 1923 Kanto Earthquake 
(Hammer, 2011), and after the bombing of most major cities during the 
Second World War, such as Tokyo (see Hein, 2016, Fig. 7, p. 9). Two 
levels of the Japanese planning system are described: at the metropolitan 
level with Tokyo as an example because it provides the genesis of the 
contemporary Japanese land-use planning system; and the national 
system that subsequently evolved in the modern democratic period 
following the end of the Pacific War. 

Within these planning frameworks, there are three topics that are 
examined in detail—which all would be familiar today to urban planners 
across many parts of the world: the land adjustment mechanism and 
value capture; transport-oriented development; and ‘smart cities’. One of 
the most successful policies associated with the post-war reconstruction 
of Japanese cities is the land-readjustment program that has been 
promoted in many Asian cities by Japanese consultants (Archer, 2000). 
Murakami (2011: 1) points out that “Tokyo is one of the most advanced 
cases of the transit-oriented megalopolis model” and he estimates the 
monetary potential to finance new railways through the value capture 
mechanism. Transit-oriented development is illustrated along with the 
Japanese new town program. 

The Japanese Government has also been proactive on what might a 
future society and its urban form and function take (James, 1990). For 
example, the “multi-function polis (MFP)” was an urban development 
concept developed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry 
(MITI) and explored for implementation in Australia (Australian and 
Japanese Governments Joint Steering Committee to Oversee a Major 
Study Investigating the Feasibility of the Multifunction Polis Concept, 
1990; Smith et al., 1993; Hamnett, 1997). More recently, Japanese 
Government policies to promote ‘smart cities’ have been initiatives 
in many countries since the early 21st century and specific Japanese 
examples are described in this chapter. 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 225 

Planning Tokyo in the Modern Period 

The purpose of this section is not to repeat the history of urban planning 
in Toky6 as there exists a substantial literature in English on its planning 
(for example, Hall, 1966; Cybriwsky, 1998; Hein, 2010). Also, the history 
of planning legislation in Osaka-Kobe is described by Perez (et al., 
2019). The Meiji government took the initiative to restructure Edo from 
a medieval castle town into a modern capital city. This “modernisation” 
of Toky6 was in conformance with a “Western image” as the prime 
objective (Funo, 2005: 246). It is important to note that, before the Meiji 
Restoration, the spatial layout of Edo was arranged by class: ordinary 
people lived to the east of the castle primarily on the banks of the 
Sumida River and Edo Bay. 

Commercial Ed6 was designed for the traffic movements on water 
and on foot. Although there was some reliance on forms of land 
transport, such as ox-drawn carriages, the conveyance of goods into 
and out of Edo depended on complex network of canals (Hamp, 2019: 
3). Despite these logistical efficiencies, writings by Westerners were 
scathing of the dismal and dilapidated state of many buildings in the 
new capital (Hein, 2016: 3), for example, around Nihonbashi (The Far 
East, 1872). Therefore, the Meiji government focused on adapting the 
new capital Tokyo to worldwide development standards. 

With regard to urban planning, Coaldrake (cited by Hamp, 2019: 6) 

At the beginning of the new era one of the most urgent tasks facing the 
Meiji leaders [...] was the construction of a new built environment for the 
conduct of the affairs of state and the development of modern industry, 
commerce and education. The ‘accepted practices of the world’ meant 
the creation of Western-style urban plans and buildings, particularly for 
the newly designated capital city of Tokyo 

The Emperor Meiji commissioned the 50-person Iwakura Mission (led 
by statesman Iwakura Tomomi, 1825-1883) who travelled to North 
America and Europe in 1871-1873 (Kodansha, 1993: 640-641). In a 
friendship mission, they sought to promote the “civilisation and cultural 
renewal” of Japan in accordance with Western models of development, 
that included urban planning practices (Hamp, 2019: 6). 

226 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The risk of fire was well understood in Edo times with unambiguous 
Tokugawa Government directives on managing the outbreak of fires. 
There were 91 fires that burned 15 blocks or more over a period of 234 
years (Sand, 2017: 88). After the Great Ginza Fire of 1872, the Meiji 
government issued a statement advocating the building of a fireproof 
city, and Shin-rydgae-ch6 (Ginza) was reborn as a Westernised rengagai 
or ‘bricktown’ (Tokyo Ginza Official, 2021). The Ginza Brick Quarters 
Project (1872-1877) was promoted by the Minister of Finance, Okuma 
Shigenobu, and was symbolic of modernisation launched to refashion 
the entire district with European highlights fashioned in red brick 
buildings. The English architects—the Waters Brothers—were invited 
to prepare plans for the area. A decade later, 2,855 buildings had been 
completed in a Georgian style with streetscape of maples, willows and 
gaslights (Sorensen, 2002). 

The origin of city planning legislation in Japan—the Tokyo Town 
Planning Ordinance—was formulated in 1888. Hibiya Park, Ueno Park, 
and the road that runs along the Imperial Palace moat, are physical 
legacies of that time. The Tokyo Town Planning Ordinance was superseded 
by the City Planning Act of 1919, which, in turn, was short lived because 
of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. On 1 September 1923, a magnitude 
7.9 earthquake struck the Kanto region. Approximately 3,465 hectares 
(44 per cent of the Toky6’s area) was subsequently destroyed by the 
fires that were triggered by the earthquake. About three-quarters of 
households were affected by the disaster. 

The following day, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yamamoto Gonbe 
established the Bureau for Reconstruction of the Imperial Capital—an 
institution under the direct control of the Prime Minister. The Minister of 
Home Affairs and former Mayor of Tokyo, Goto Shinpei, was appointed 
as President of the Bureau for Reconstruction of the Imperial Capital. He 
led the planning and reconstruction of the city, incorporating modern 
planning methods. The original budget request to implement the plan 
was 1.5 billion yen but this was cut by about a third to 468 million yen 
(Metro Tokyo, 2021). The main mechanism for government intervention 
was land readjustment (described in more detail in a later section) to 
rezone land over significant parts of the devastated areas. 

Both the national and the Toky6 metropolitan governments have 
continuously been involved in trying to regulate urban growth and 
renewal with their planning institutions evolving with time. From 5 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 227 

April 1919 and 15 July 2018, a total of 235 Tokyo City planning laws 
and regulations, and numerous Cabinet orders, were issued so what 
follows by necessity is a cursory examination of the interactions 
between governments, the private sector and the broader community 
of interested stakeholders in the processes of urban development in the 
modern democratic era. The details of these laws and regulations are 
listed in a document that is regularly updated on the Metro Tokyo, and 
the reader can readily access them ( 

Planning Tokyo in the Modern Democratic Period 

With changing socio-economic circumstances in the chaotic period 
after 1945, the Comprehensive National Land Development Act of 1950 
was promulgated by the Japanese Government. The first substantial 
step towards post-war reconstruction was made under the Tokyo 
Special City Plan (e.g. land readjustment for reconstruction). By the 
beginning of 2013, land readjustment projects had been completed 
in 593 areas (approximately 21,312 hectares) and they are ongoing 
in 23 areas (approximately 520 hectares) in the Tokyo ward areas, 
and in 36 areas (approximately 1,055 hectares) in the Tama district 
(Tokyo Metropolitan Government, n.d.: 74). In June 1950, the Capital 
Construction Law was established as a national project to construct Tokyo 
as a national showcase. Given the high population growth and the 
rapid suburbanisation, this law proved ineffective in controlling urban 
development in the Tokyo region. 

As a result, the National Capital Region Development Act of April 1956 
was introduced to control development over the greater metropolitan 
region.' Under this act, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government promoted 
an all-out revision of urban plans: parks and green spaces in 1957; 
expressways in 1959; and high-speed railways in 1962. The partial 
revision of the Building Standards Act of May 1950 in January 1963 resulted 
in zoning to secure open spaces, to redress the imbalance between the 
over-concentrated population and urban facilities. The formulation 

1 Yokohama, Kawasaki, Atsugi, Hachioji, Tachikawa, Oume, Kumagaya, Urawa 
Saitama, Tsuchiura, Ushiku, Tsukuba, Narita, Chiba, Kisarazu, Tama, Sagamihara, 
Machida, Kawagoe, Kasukabe, Koshigaya, Kashiwa. 

228 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

of these land-use plans at the ward level opened up new avenues for 
skyscraper development. Green spaces that had been designated under 
earlier policies gave way to land readjustment projects enabling further 
comprehensive, high-rise residential development. 

The Second and Third National regional capital plans (1976 and 1986) 
both addressed the formulation of policies for “suburban development 
areas” around the existing built-up areas of Tokyo in order to develop 
balanced and well-designed hierarchical urban centres and to preserve 
some green areas but on a much smaller scale than before. Notably, the 
plans were not only limited to industrial and satellite cities but also to 
academic, recreational and cultural facilities. 

This transformation from a mono-centric city to a poly-centric 
employment structure was anticipated by Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) 
who made substantial contributions to the history of technology, 
the history of cities and urban planning practice. Writing in 1937, he 
predicted the emergence of a new form of the metropolis called the 
“poly-nucleated city”, suggesting that even without planning and 
“intelligent public control” the de-centralisation of urban functions 
would accelerate. However, over the years, despite the substantial efforts 
to promote a multi-nucleus urban pattern, Tokyo continued to preserve 
its strong centralised structure (Alpkokin et al., 2007a). 

The Fourth and Fifth Plans firmly designated “business core cities”? 
defined as the high-density core settlements within the Tokyo central 
area; and “bases for large cooperation” defined as the large centres 
outside the Tokyo central area. Urban re-generation plans have also 
been applied for non-core city development and one good example is 
the re-development of Roppongi, where a multi-use, 54-floor tower has 
been constructed near subway rail stations. The Plans state their primary 
aim as polycentric spatial re-structuring with a circular development 
of stronger urban nodes outside the Tokyo central area to ensure self- 
reliant regions, to strengthen the regional network and co-operation, 
and also to mitigate the stress on the central area. 

Despite these top-down national and metropolitan government 
policy interventions, the high economic growth from the mid-1950s 
onwards caused a further intensification of population and industry 

2 Mito, Maebashi, Takasaki, Utsunomiya, Kofu. 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 229 

in Tokyo resulting in a confused mixture of land uses and further 
suburban sprawl. A new City Planning Act was promulgated in June 
1968 and put into force a year later as a strategic land use planning tool to 
prevent housing shortages, to reduce long journey-to-work commuting 
travel and to tackle environmental pollution. Significantly, there was 
a devolution of powers to prefectural governors and municipalities to 
ensure greater citizen participation in the land-use development process 
(Toky6 Metropolitan Government, n.d.: 3-4). 

In 1980, the “district planning system” was established where 
municipalities—the local governments that are closest to residents— 
were given decision-making powers. In June 2013, the City Planning 
Act was partially revised, in association with the enforcement of 
the Decentralization Law (the third package bill), that abolished the 
requirement to send a copy of relevant documents to the Minister of 
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism following a decision on 
city planning. 

Railway improvements and linking land-use development has a long 
history in Japan. For example, even before the 1940s, when the railway 
enterprises invested in new rail lines, they also owned and developed 
the land parcels around the major stations. Since the 1960s, Tokyo has 
developed its rail network (Morichi et al., 2001: 3), not only its central 
subway system but also suburban railways connecting the centres 
designated in the land-use plans. In the 1970s and onwards, new rail 
lines have connected the business core cities and the centre of Tokyo 
(the Musashino-line in 1973; the Hokuso-line in 1979; and the Tsukuba 
express connecting Tsukuba and Akihabara in 2005). 

Another important feature of railway development is that local 
councils responsible for transport policy assist in the development 
the railways in their metropolitan areas; they give recommendations 
about certain construction and upgrading projects. Only if listed in the 
Council’s report, can construction commence on new railway lines. The 
ninth report by the Tokyo Metropolitan Council in 1966 was the first 
document to address transit-focused development. 

Figure 7 identifies the main policy areas located within the Tokyo 
Capital Region. The existing urban area of Tokyo is indicated in light 
brown. The lightest of the shading shows the suburban development 
areas. The areas shown in black are designated for green conservation. 

230 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The dark brown areas are the nodes identified for new urban 
development such as Utsunomiya (connected to central Tokyo Station 
by high-speed rail) and K6fu (a station on the Chuo maglev Shinkansen 
linking Shinagawa Station). The extensive rail and subway networks in 
Toky6 facilitate public transport connections from all of the development 
locations in Figure 7 into core activity areas, as can be demonstrated by 
consulting the interactive rail service MiniTokyo3D website (https:// 

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Figure 7. Map of the Tokyo Capital Region Policy Areas. 
Source: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, n.d., Figure 2-4, p. 12, http://www. /eng /pdf/index_02.pdf?1503. 
Institution for National Land-Use Planning 

At the national level, the Japanese Government has, in theory, the 
necessary institutional arrangement to achieve integrated approaches, 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 231 

where all modes of transport and land development are located in one 
ministry. The most recent organisational structure (as of 2015) for the 
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is 
found at In addition 
to mode specific bureaux covering maritime and ports, waterways, 
roads, railways and civil aviation, there is also a bureau devoted to spatial 
planning and regional policy to complement a top-down approach to 
integrated planning. There is a hierarchy of land-use plans that flows 
from the top downwards from the national level, to the regional level, to 
the prefectural level and finally to the municipal level as illustrated by 
the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (n.d.: 7). 

Land Readjustment Program 

Land readjustment is such an important component in understanding 
the processes of urban development in major Japanese cities that a 
description of its institutional arrangements is worth outlining. Category 
1 Urban Redevelopment Projects are executed by the method called 
“right conversion”. The right conversion is a method of equivalent 
exchange between rights (original assets), such as the ownership, lease 
right and rented house right of land and building prior to the project 
execution and a right to land and building after the project execution 
(resultant assets = “entitled” floors). Amongst the building floors that 
are constructed by the project (including pieces of land corresponding 
to the floors), floors that exceed “entitled” floors are called reserved 
floors that are sold to obtain the funds to cover the costs of launching 
a project. Those people in the affected area who do not accept the 
“right conversion” may make a request compensation from the project 
executor to move out and relocate somewhere else (Tokyo Metropolitan 
Government, n.d., Figure 3-9, p. 74). 

The land readjustment program usually functions through the 
collaborative activities of civil society, although sometimes the program 
is in partnership with local government. A private citizen—a landowner, 
or a land lease right holder or a group of them—within the designated 
project area may become an executor or executors by preparing a 
constitution and a project plan. The unanimous consent of right 
holders within the area are first obtained and then permission from the 

232 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

prefectural governor is obtained to proceed for implementation of the 
development. Those other than right holders within the area may also 
become executors by obtaining unanimous consent of the right holders. 

To explain how private organisations can be involved in the urban 
development process, redevelopment associations of landowners, or 
land-lease right holders, are formed as follows. If the founders are at 
least five in number within the project area, and they have prepared the 
articles of incorporation and a project plan with the consent of at least 
a two-thirds majority of members, then they may become executors by 
obtaining the authorisation from the prefectural governor to establish 
a partnership that becomes the urban redevelopment association. 
Specified architectural consultants carry out the project in cooperation 
with the executors through their provision of funding or design 

A more commercial organisation is formed in the following way. 
Business corporations, or limited liability companies, that share at least 
two-thirds of the land parcels within the project area and hold more 
than half of voting rights, prepare the articles of incorporation together 
with a project plan. Once they obtain consent of a two-thirds majority 
of the landowners and the land lease right holders within the project 
area, and if the right area of consenters constitutes two thirds or more 
of the total right area, then they become executors of a development by 
obtaining authorisation from the prefectural governor. 

There is a provision in the program that the Tokyo Metropolitan 
Government and municipalities may become executors in land 
readjustment schemes by obtaining project approval from the Minister 
of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the 
prefecture governor. Also, the Urban Renaissance Agency and the Tokyo 
Metropolitan Housing Supply Corporation may become executors by 
obtaining project approval from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, 
Transport and Tourism. 

Land Readjustment Mechanism 

The mechanism of the land readjustment program and local government 
planning is illustrated in Figure 8. This mechanism has proved to be 
a highly successful policy for the redevelopment of station precincts. 
It has allowed existing landowners to share in some of the profits that 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 233 

arise from re-zoning to higher densities, for developers to consolidate 
lots to allow imaginative higher density buildings to be erected and 
to return land for public purposes around railway station pedestrian 
access points. This provision in the planning act is illustrated with a 
case study of Shibuya in Tokyo that reveals the complexity of such an 
integrated urban redevelopment project. 

Before After 
Rail-Transit Project Rail-Transit Project 

Project (el 



Professional Appraisal based on 
Appraiser “Land Re-Adjustment Method” 

>< Assessment is made only for plain land 

Figure 8. Mechanism of the Land Re-adjustment Program in Japan. 

Source: Professor Kazuaki Miyamoto, pers. comm. 

Shibuya Station in Tokyo has posed difficulties for passengers in finding 
how to change trains due to its complicated structure that was formed 
through its repeated extension and reconstruction since the Taishd era. 
In addition, it has suffered problems in terms of safety and convenience, 
such as a station square crowded with pedestrians and buses. In order to 
resolve these problems, a plan promoted drastic improvement of safety 
and convenience by reorganising and improving the station square plaza 
and re-developing its adjacent areas in an integrated manner together 
with railway improvements. 

The conceptual vision was a strengthening of the international 
competitiveness of the locality by introducing cultural, exchange and 
information-transmission functions, advanced business functions (such 

234 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

as creative content industries, and industrial development functions). 
The Shibuya Station improvement project involved public-private 
cooperation, based on two documents: the development policy for 
Special Urban Renaissance Urgent Development Areas; and the Policy 
on Infrastructure Development in the Shibuya Station Central Area. The 
project timeline from 2007 to 2013 involved land readjustment projects, 
railway improvement projects, a national road project under the 
direction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 
is summarised in Table 26. 

Table 26. Land Readjustment and the Timeline for the Recent 
Redevelopment of Shibuya Station, 2007-2013. 
Source: Author. 

Date Activity 

September 2007 Formulation of the 2007 Town Development 
Guidelines for Shibuya Station Central Area 

June 2008 Opening of the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line; 
formulation of the Policy on Infrastructure Development 
in Shibuya Station Block 

June 2009 City planning decisions on projects for roads, traffic 
square, land readjustment, etc. 

March 2011 Formulation of the 2010 Town Development Guidelines 
for Shibuya Station Central Area 

October 2012 Formulation of the Policy on Infrastructure Development 
in Shibuya Station Central Area 

March 2013 Underground installation of the Tokyt Toyoko Line; 
Start of its mutual direct operation with the Fukutoshin 

June 2013 City planning decisions on the special urban renaissance 
districts (Shibuya Station area, Shibuya 3, Chome 21 

“Transit-Oriented Development” 

The phrase “transit-oriented development” (TOD) is a give-away to 
its American origin. Before describing, with examples, the Japanese 
characteristics of TOD, the U.S. concept is first explained. In the 
international Western literature, transit-oriented development is a 
concept where a rail, bus, or ferry public transport can anchor a more 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 235 

environmentally and socially responsible urban form to achieve more 
sustainable urban development outcomes. For example, in the U.S.A. 
transit-oriented development has been promulgated by leading 
architects and planners, with support from the development industry 
(Calthorpe Associates, 1990; Calthorpe, 1993), as part of the ‘new 
urbanism’ (which in itself is an American term). 

Transit-oriented development “is viewed by many as a promising tool 
for curbing sprawl and the automobile dependence it spawns” (Cervero 
et al., 2004: 3). A synthesis of the literature suggests that the U.S. transit- 
oriented developments include the following ten characteristics. 

1. Development that lies within a five-minute walk of the 
transit stop, or about a quarter of a mile from stop to edge. 
For major stations offering access to frequent high-speed 
service this pedestrian catchment area may be extended 
outwards to a 10-minute walk. 

2. A balanced mix of uses of residential and commercial space 
located adjacent to a major transit stop with a 24-hour 

3. A place-based zoning code at, or near, transit stops that 
generates buildings that shape and define memorable 
streets, squares and plazas, while allowing uses to change 
easily over time. 

4. A built form with public transit included that presents an 
average block perimeter limited to no more than 1,350 feet 
(411 metres). This generates a fine-grained network of 
streets, dispersing traffic and allowing for the creation of 
quiet and intimate thoroughfares. 

5. Minimum parking requirements are abolished since the goal 
is to reduce private motor vehicles and make them more, 
and not less, convenient for pedestrians and users of public 

6. Maximum parking requirements are instituted as a counter 
to the usual notion of providing parking for every peak 
demand. For every 1,000 workers, no more than 500 spaces 
and as few as 10 spaces are provided. 

236 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

7. Parking costs in TOD are “unbundled,” and full market rates 
are charged for all parking spaces to promote less car use. 

8. Major stops provide bike stations, offering free attended 
bicycle parking, repairs and rentals. At minor stops, secure 
and fully enclosed bicycle parking is provided. 

9. Transit service is fast, frequent, reliable and comfortable, 
with headways of 15 minutes, or less. Roadway space 
is allocated to different users and traffic signals timed 
primarily for the convenience of walkers and cyclists. 

10. Traffic is calmed, with roads designed to limit speed to 30 
mph (50km/h) on major streets and 20 mph (30km/h) on 
lesser streets. 

Even before the 1940s in Japan, when the railway enterprises invested 
in new rail lines, they also owned and developed the land parcels 
around the major stations along the route. As noted in Chapter 6, Ichizo 
Kobayashi introduced the concept of combining railway development 
and suburban development (Kato, 1996: 45) in an attempt to persuade 
bankers about the feasibility of his business (Tokyo Kyukou Dentetsu 
Kabushiki Kaisha, 1973; Park et al., 2011). 

The essence of station area transit-oriented developments in 
Japan are high-rise mixed-use buildings above, and adjacent to, the 
station platforms with the streets on one side of the railway tracks 
modern redevelopments and the other side a more traditional mix of 
bars, cafes and small businesses. Based on field observations in the 
neighbourhoods surrounding railway stations (Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, 
Shizuoka, Yokohama, Kawasaki and Tokyo) a study by Black (et al., 
2016) identified five key elements that produce high-quality design 
outcomes that can be adapted and applied in any cultural setting for 
transit-oriented developments: accessibility; amenity; axis; affordability; 
and ancestry. 

Table 27 summarises selected transit-oriented developments built 
during the first decade of the 21st century on 11 railway lines (with the 
different rail technologies shown) in Tokyo. The table also reveals the 
lead agency in the station development whether a government project, a 
private enterprise project or a public-private sector partnership. 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 237 

Table 27. Selected Tokyo Railways Developed Post-2000 by Governments, 

Private Companies and Public-Private Partnerships. 

Source: Murakami, 2011: 1. 

Name Opened Length Technology Ownership 
Shinagawa HSR 2003 N/a HSR Private 
Oedo Line 2000 27.8 MRT Public 
Mita Line 2000 4.0 MRT Public 
North-South Line 2000 5.7 MRT Private 
Hanzamon Line 2003 6.0 MRT Private 
Tokyo Bay Line 2001 7.3 CRT Public- 
Tsukuba Xpress 2005 58.3 CRT Public- 
Hokus6 Line 2000 3.8 CRT Public- 
Saitama Xpress 2001 14.6 CRT Public- 
Minat6-Mirai 2004 4.1 MRT Public- 
Xpress Private 
Tama Monorail 2000 16.0 LRT Public- 

Legend: HSR—high-speed rail; MRT—mass rapid transit; 
CRT—commuter heavy rail; LRT—light rail transit (tram). 

Murakami (2011: 1) also analysed land-value changes (adjusted to 
2000 prices) for the period 2000 to 2007, and found the ability of the 
new Shinagawa HSR station, the MRT and CRT stations, and high-rise 
office property redevelopments at stations to stimulate local economic 

development were considerable in central Tokyo. However, in outer 

Tokyo, the ability of the new railway extensions (and car-dependent 

commercial property developments at highway interchanges) was 

found to be insignificant for value capture. The conclusion is that transit- 

oriented developments are only successful in stimulating the value of 

land and properties where the location is suitable and where suitable 

planning instruments are in place. 

238 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Nagoya Station 

Railway stations in Japan are important for local communities because 
as transport hubs with integrated mixed land uses, they serve as a focal 
point and are modern attractive environments where people gather. 
This is recognised by JR Central who have cooperated with requests 
from local municipalities to improve stations by building over-tracks, 
including installing handicap accessible passages, promoting railway 
elevators, developing plazas in front of stations for pedestrian, cycling, 
bus and taxi access (Central Japan Railway Company, 2020: 52). 
Currently, in terms of floor space, Nagoya Station is the largest in 
the world. When the Chto Shinkansen enters service, Nagoya Station 
will be the world’s first to conveniently transfer passengers amongst 
all forms of public transport: maglev, high speed rail, conventional rail, 
air express rail, subways, city buses, long-distance coaches and taxis. 
The progressive expansion of Nagoya Station as a “transit-oriented 
development” started with JR Central Towers, opened in 2000, and JR 
Gate Tower, opened in 2017 (Central Japan Railway Company, 2020: 42). 
The station attracts large numbers of passengers and visitors— 
almost one-quarter of a million people each day. The land-use activities 
in the buildings make a significant contribution to the region’s economy. 
The merchandise section manages department stores and provides sales 
services for goods and food in stations and trains. The real estate section 
develops commercial facilities in stations and areas under elevated 
tracks, and also leases real estate such as station buildings. Another 
section manages hotels, travel agencies, and advertising agencies. The 
building characteristics and functions of JR Towers, JR Gate Tower and 
Takashimaya Gate Tower Mall are summarised in Table 28 below. 

Table 28. Nagoya Station—Associated Buildings and Services, 2020. 
Source: based on Central Japan Railway Company, 2020. 

Building Height Area (sq. | Function 
(metres) m.) 
JR Towers 245 417,000 Department store, hotel and offices 
JR Gate 220 260,000 Commercial facilities, 160 fashion 
Tower stores, electronics, JR Gate Tower 
Hotel, together with Nagoya 
Marriott Associa Hotel and offices 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 239 

The businesses represent a major commercial / retail destination in 
the Nagoya region in addition to its function as a major transport hub. 
The operating revenues of these consolidated Central Japan Railway 
Company’s business subsidiaries, excluding JR Central railway business, 
totalled 636.6 billion yen in the financial year ending in 2019 (Central 
Japan Railway Company, 2020: 42). Other examples of transit-oriented 
developments are contained in Japanese new towns. 

Japanese New Towns 

To fully understand such examples of transit-oriented development, 
such as Tama New Town and Tama Garden City, they need to be placed 
within the context of the Japanese New Town Policy. The growth of the 
Japanese economy from the 1960s onwards resulted in a rapid influx of 
population into Tokyo, and other major cities, resulting in skyrocketing 
land prices. Therefore, many households settled on the outskirts of the 
city where land was cheaper. This uncontrolled expansion of the urban 
fringes of large Japanese cities by private-sector property speculators 
led to poorly planned communities with poor access to amenities and 
transport and inadequate infrastructure to service the population. 

Japan’s New Town program consisted of a many diverse projects, most 
of which aspired to the creation of all-inclusive urban environments. 
The program was heavily informed by the Anglo-American Garden 
City tradition (Grant, 2014) initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard 
in the UK (Welwyn, Letchworth), American neighbourhood design 
(Radburn), as well as Soviet strategies of industrial development (Hein, 
2003). Some 30 new towns have been built all over Japan. Most of these 
constructions were initiated during the period of rapid economic growth 
in the 1960s, but construction continued into the 1980s of which Tama 
New Town is a good example of the institutional approach taken. 

Tama New Town 

Conceived in 1965 to ease the growth pressure in Tokyo, Tama New Town 
(282-131-277) provided hundreds of thousands of housing units in 
a planned, pleasant urban environment that was once the former green 
belt encircling Tokyo. The planning and development were carried out 
jointly by The Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Tokyo, 

240 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

the Metropolitan Housing Supply Corporation and Tokyo Metropolitan 
Government. Construction began in 1966 and the first phase opened in 
1971. Construction continued in phases for the next four decades, 

Tama New Town has a population of approximately 200,000 making 
it the largest housing development in Japan in an area of 2,892 hectares. 
Tama New Town is approximately 14 km long stretching east-west, 
and between 1 and 3 km wide, located in an expanse of hills known as 
Tama Hills about 15 km west of central Toky6 (Takayama et al., 2019, 
Figure 2, p. 2316). It straddles the municipalities of Hachidji, Tama, 
Inagi and Machida cities, and, administratively, each area is governed 
by its respective municipal authority, although they all come under the 
jurisdiction of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. 

Tama New Town is divided into 21 neighbourhoods, each with about 
3,000 to 5,000 houses and flats, each with two elementary schools and one 
junior high school as well as a neighbourhood centre with shops, police 
station, post office, medical clinics and so on. Several neighbourhoods 
form one district, each of which are centred around a commuter rail 
station. Tama New Town is served by more than ten railway stations, 
most of them on the Keio Sagamihara Line and Odakyt Tama Line, both 
of which provide a direct service to Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo. JR 
Nambu Line and Tama Toshi Monorail Line also serve the area. 

The area surrounding the Tama Center Station complex, in the 
municipality of Tama, is the designated centre of Tama New Town. The 
station complex also includes shopping arcades and a bus terminal. The 
surrounding area is separated into business, commercial and leisure 
zones. Some of the negative issues identified with this program have 
been longer commuting times into Toky6, high housing costs and 
relatively poor access to a range of urban functions (Tanabe, 1978). In 
2002, Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro (1942—) announced the end 
of new town construction, although the towns continue to receive 
government funding for redevelopment. 

Tama Garden City 

In contrast, Tama Garden City (the Den’en Toshi Development Project)° 
has achieved a more satisfactory outcome with the integration of land 

3 The GREAT project that was funded under the Australian Indonesian Governance 
Reform Program that allowed the author to visit Japan to undertake research into 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 241 

use and transport planning. The problem context is as follows. In 1956, 
the first comprehensive plan for national and capital region development 
was established—first defining the Tokyo metropolitan area to be 
within a 100-km radius from the core of old Tokyo. At the time, there 
was an essentially mono-centric urban structure with its associated 
high commuting stresses on the city centre, caused especially by the 
congestion on the centrally focused railways (Alpkokin et al., 2007b). 

Governments formulated policies to promote controlled 
decentralisation, to avoid over centralisation and to introduce a “green 
belt” to preserve large-scale green areas very similar to County of 
London Plan prepared in 1943 by J. H. Forshaw and Patrick Abercrombie. 
Powerful lobby groups in Japan, including private railway companies, 
helped to torpedo the plan. The “Tokyo greenbelt plan” failed, and the 
subsequent plan of 1968 completely abolished the green belt concept 
that allowed the Den’en Toshi Development Project to proceed. There 
are nine defining characteristics of this development: 

1. One enterprise has developed both land and the railway. 

2. There has been a complete internalisation of the external 
economy of the Railway Development. 

3. There has been a_ well-planned land-use and_ land 

4. Infrastructure development and acquisition of land for the 
railway and public use has been coordinated in stages. 

TOD, to conduct fieldwork in Tama New Town, and to study the land adjustment 
program. The following people were interviewed and provided valuable information: 
Ir. Eddi Santosa, Director, MRT Jakarta, Balai Kota DKI Jakarta; Dr Masafumi Ota, 
Manager, Project Coordinating Secretariat, Planning and Administration Division, 
Railway Headquarters, Tokyu Corporation, Tokyo; Mr Dongkun Oh, Assistant 
Manager, Residential Realty Division, Residential (Development) Headquarters, 
Tokyu Corporation, Tokyo; Professor Yoshitsugu Hayashi, Dean, Graduate School 
of Environmental Management, Nagoya University; Professor Kazuaki Miyamoto, 
Musashi University of Technology, Yokohama; Dr Hiroshi Mori, Chief Consultant, 
Social-System Policy Department, Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc, Otemachi 2— 
Chome, Tokyo; Dr Masaki Arioka, Kumagai Gumi Company, lidabashi, Tokyo; Dr 
Hiroshi Mr Yoneda Gen, Deputy Director, Division 2 and Division 1, Development 
Assistance Department, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, 4-1, Ohtemachi 
1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Mr Michihiko Ogawa, Program Officer, Division 2, 
Indonesia, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, 4-1, Ohtemachi 1-chome, 
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Mr John Hart, Multi-modal Transport Manager, NSW Roads and 
Traffic Authority; Professor John Renne, University of New Orleans, New Orleans. 

242 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

5. The extension of the railway has been in accordance with 
settlement development. 

6. Well-coordinated feeder service to the station. 
7. This has provided a stable revenue from fares. 

8. Shopping complexes have been developed by the same 

9. Overall there is a high level of accessibility to public 

Ishibashi and Taniguchi (2005) have analysed development of Tama 
Garden City pointing out that it began as the development of a 
low-density residential area but gradually shifted to high-density 
developments. Planning relating to this development was undertaken 
with appropriate revisions being made in the preparation process to 
ensure there was a response to the changing socio-economic conditions 
of escalating land prices. Instead of regarding the master plan as a fixed 
plan that determined the final shape of the new town, its continuous 
review processes have introduced flexibility. The apparent success of 
the planning of Tama Garden City is a factor that has encouraged the 
National Government in the late 1990s to speculate on the nature of 
future urbanisation in Japan, including ‘smart cities’. 

Smart Cities 

The literature on ‘smart cities’ is extensive. A search was made in February 
2022 of the Google Scholar® database by entering the key words ‘smart 
cities’ that retrieved some 1.24 million citations. This is not surprising 
given that the roots of the smart city movement can be traced back to the 
beginning from the late 1960s when the Community Analysis Bureau 
in Los Angeles used computer data bases, cluster analysis and infrared 
aerial photography to gather data, produce reports on neighbourhood 
housing quality and demographics, and made recommendations to 
governments on resource allocation to tackle urban poverty (Vallianatos, 
2015). This sub-section focuses on the policy context for smart cities in 
Japan and gives examples of smart city initiatives in Kashiwa (Chiba 
Prefecture), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture) and Toyama (Toyama 
Prefecture). Examples of initiatives for travel mobilities in smart cities 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 243 

are drawn from Toyota’s “Woven City” (Shizuoka Prefecture) and 
Maebashi (Gunma Prefecture). 

Global and Japanese Smart Cities 

Today, with advances in information and communication technologies, 
and the plethora of data collection devises, common attributes of a 
‘smart city’ are sensor networks that collect information to be stored and 
analysed in order to improve services. The Japanese government, and 
the country’s industrial and technology companies, have been pioneers 
in developing an integrated approach to energy and sustainability issues 
in smart cities with eco-town projects in 1997, followed in 2008 by the 
Eco Model City program. 

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 
(Rio+20), the Japanese Governmentmade an announcement on promoting 
the “FutureCityInitiative” which creates human-centred “new value” to 
resolve the challenges of the environment and ageing. In June 2010, the 
Japanese Government identified the “FutureCity Initiative” as one of 21 
national projects in its “New Growth Strategy”. Japan for Sustainability, 
launched in 2011 and promoted by the Cabinet Office, designated as 
“Future Cities” eleven cities. As three of these eleven cities—Kashiwa, 
Toyama and Yokohama—all fall within the study area defined for this 
book, the smart city components of each city are described in some detail 
( /index.html). 

Kashiwa City—Smart City 

Kashiwa City is located some 40 km north-northeast of Tokyo Railway 
Station. Formerly, Kashiwa-no-ha, was a famous horse-breeding area in 
the Edo era directly under the control of the Tokugawa Shogunate. With 
the establishment of prefectures, the Japanese government promoted 
settlement and agriculture with Mitsui’s Hachiroemon Takayoshi 
(the 8th head of the Mitsui clan) as president of a land reclamation 
company. During the Korea War, the United States Air Force built a 
communications base there on an area of 188 hectares that was returned 
to Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. in 1979. In 2001, Kashiwa City began a 
Land Readjustment Project based on an urban planning project at the 
273-hectare Kashiwa-no-ha area. 

244 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

In December 2011, the Cabinet Office selected Kashiwa-no-ha as 
a “Comprehensive Special Zone for Regional Revitalization and an 
Environmental Future City”. The city builders were the private-sector 
company Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd., who attracted some of the brightest 
academic minds to set up facilities in the area, including the University 
of Tokyo Kashiwa Campus, Chiba University Kashiwa-no-ha Campus 
and the National Cancer Center Hospital East. This academic infusion 
was coupled with the creation of the Urban Design Center Kashiwa- 
no-ha (UDCK), a consortium to design and implement a long-term, 
multi-decade “master plan” ( 
en/). Since its genesis in 2001, Kashiwa-no-ha has tackled ways to 
improve citizen’s health and set up one of Japan’s biggest co-working 
areas (Kashiwa-no-ha Open Innovation Lab, or KOIL) to stimulate idea 
exchange amongst entrepreneurs and professionals. Initiatives during 
Covid-19 include the simulation of ventilation in offices. 

Yokohama—Smart City 

The City of Yokohama proposed activities on the “civil power” of the 
city’s population of 3.69 million: the historical background of the opening 
of its port to international trade; and the accumulated knowledge about 
the environment and energy. The proposal featured implementation of 
the Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP)—solar power, electric vehicles, 
CEMS (Severe Environmental Memory System) and the domestic and 
international dissemination of innovative water supply and sewerage 
technologies. The smart city project is founded on mutual support in the 
local area through NPOs and major support networks for a super-ageing 
society. This includes the implementation of life-support functions to 
renovate housing for the elderly, making transport barrier free, and the 
creation and transmission of culture and art. 

The city established the Yokohama Smart Business Association in 
2015 in order to prepare for the practical application of the technologies 
verified through the smart city program. The city installed a co-generation 
system to share energy from the Yokohama City University Medical 
Centre to the adjacent Minami-ku Government Building. In one of 
the sustainable residential model districts (Tokaichiba-ch6), town 
development for residents, companies, government and others using 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 245 

city land will be carried out as a model case to resolve social challenges. 
These include residential suburbs based on the proposals by private 
companies such as the supply of a diversity of homes with energy 
conservation and carbon reduction devices. 

Toyama—Smart City 

Toyama City is a major urban area on the Sea of Japan coast with a 
population of about 420,000 on flat terrain that has rapidly suburbanised 
and become car dependant. In order to address the above issues, as well 
as a rapidly ageing population and falling birth rates, the city has set its 
basic policy to develop a compact city focused around public transport. 
The vision is to create an elderly-friendly, low-carbon, sustainable city 
by promoting the use of public transport and attracting residents back 
into the urban centre. 

On 29 April 2006, Toyama opened a new light rail transit (LRT) 
tramway using innovative tram-train technology. The current network 
of light rail and heavy rail can be viewed on a website (http://www. The evolution of this 
passenger network is complex. The City Government has converted the 
JR Toyamako Line (1067 mm gauge, single track of 7.6 km, also known 
as Portram) into a light rail transit (LRT) system in 2006. The Toyama 
Chih6 Tetsud6’s Kamidaki Line was opened in 1907 as a tram system 
and on 14 March 2015 the 300-metre spur to Toyama Railway Station 
was completed to coincide with the inauguration of the Hokuriku 
Shinkansen services. On 21 March 2020 the Toyama Chiho Tetsud6’s 
Kamidaki Line was also connected to Portram at Toyama station. 

The Toyama prefectural and municipal governments and local 
economic groups jointly set up a third-sector company, the Toyama 
Light Rail Co., capitalised at 498 million yen (U.S. $4.4 million). It took 
over a 6.5-km section of railway from the West Japan Railway Co. and 
extended it through the city’s streets by 1.1 km. The LRT system cost the 
company 5.8 billion yen (U.S. $51.4 million) as it had to buy rollingstock 
and lay additional tracks. The Toyama City Government covered about 
half of the cost with the Prefectural Government and the Ministry of 
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism providing the remainder 
of the loan (Light Rail Now, 2006). 

246 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Mobility in the Smart City—the Toyota Company 

The City of Toyota, with a population of 420,000, has a target to reduce 
emissions by 30-50 per cent by 2030. As the home of the Toyota Motor 
Company, the city is, unsurprisingly, focusing on transport and 
mobility issues for its smart city initiative, including a plug-in hybrid 
car-sharing system and the development of solar power-based charging 
infrastructure. Japan’s largest car manufacturers and technology firms 
are involved in autonomous driving vehicles and data collection, 
dissemination and analysis. 

However, the company’s venture into sustainable cities is the 
announcement in January 2020 of a new town “Woven City,’—a 
reference to the Toyoto Company’s origins in 1933 as a division of 
the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works established in Nagoya by Toyoda 
Kiichiro ( 
html). On 23 February 2021, the Toyota Motor Corporation and Woven 
Planet Holdings, Inc. (Woven Planet) held a ground-breaking ceremony 
for the construction of Woven City at the old vehicle yard adjacent to the 
former Higashi-Fuji Plant site of Toyota Motor East Japan, Inc in Susono 

This initiative is to be built on the 71-hectare site of the car factory 
that closed in late 2020 (Kyodo, 2021). The new city will begin with 
2,000 residents, including Toyota employees, during the first few years 
and will also serve as a home base for researchers. Residents will have 
in-home robotics to assist their daily lives, with sensor-based AI systems 
monitoring their health. Only fully autonomous, zero-emission vehicles 
will be allowed to travel on the main streets. Woven City will have three 
types of streets interwoven with each other on the ground level: one 
dedicated to automated vehicle driving; one to pedestrians; and one to 
pedestrians using personal mobility vehicles. Underground there will 
be roads used to transport goods and waste (Global Toyota, 2021). 

Mobility in Maebashi City 

In April 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) 
and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism jointly 
started a “Smart Mobility Challenge” project aimed at implementing 
new mobility services. The ministries selected 28 areas and projects 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 247 

of which Maebashi was a successful applicant. It is Japan’s most car- 
dependent locality with 0.67 vehicles per person (Japan BRANDVOICE, 
2019) and, with an ageing population, older residents do not want 
to give up their driving license for fear of a loss of independence—a 
problem in most developed countries (Nakanishi and Black, 2015). 

Maebashi, with a population of about 332,999 in its core (in October 
2019), and a surrounding metropolitan region with approximately 1.26 
million people, embarked on the “Smart Mobility Challenge,” aiming to 
create an urban traffic environment where all citizens can move freely. 
The city is one of a select number in Japan starting to pioneer Mobility 
as a Service (MaaS) that aims to integrate local buses, trains, taxis and 
other modes of transport into a single on-demand app. The MaaS project 
captures in digital format all traffic flow in the Maebashi area and the 
various mobility options will be synced and organised inside a common 
platform. For the user, this means that upon selecting a destination the 
app will compose the best multi-transport route and accept payment for 
all parts of the travel as one transaction. Commercial facility managers 
and advertising firms are getting involved in this grand mobility vision 
allowing such things as activity information and pre-paid bookings 
using the app. 

A consortium of private and public sector partners and a university 
are involved: the traffic planning firm Jorudan; data analysis by NIT 
Data; telecom giant NIT DoCoMo and its partner in AI bus services, 
Mirai Share. The transport operators are 6 local bus firms (for example, 
Nippon Chuo Bus), 10 local taxi firms and rail operators (JR East— 
Joetsu and Ryom6 lines; and Jomo Electric Railway Company). Japan’s 
leading autonomous driving research hub witha fleet of 18 self-drive test 
vehicles (including buses, trucks and a taxi) is the Center for Research 
on Adoption of NextGen Transportation Systems (CRANTS), part of 
Gunma University’s campus in Maebashi City. Technological solutions 
could also be applied to act as “last-mile” solutions, connecting people’s 
homes and public transport stops. 


Since antiquity, rulers of empires and ancient states have laid out their cities 
according to some formalised plan. The Japanese Emperors followed the 
layout principles of Chinese capital cities, such as Chang’an (Xian), when 

248 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

developing Heijo-ky6 (Nara) and Heian-ky6 (Kyoto) in the 8th century. 
Medieval castle towns in Japan had their own characteristic morphology. 
Similarly, the Tokugawa Government based in Edo developed one of the 
world’s largest cities of that time with an obvious spatial structure that 
segregated the designated strata of society. With the Meiji Restoration of 
1868, the capital of Japan was transferred from Kyoto to Tokyo (Edo), 
where Western principles of planning and design were introduced. 

The institutions charged with urban development were modernised 
and Japanese delegations undertook overseas missions to determine 
the best way to manage urban growth and renewal. The Emperor Meiji 
commissioned a 50-person mission to travel to North America and 
Europe in 1871-1873 seeking “Western models of development” that 
included urban planning practices. The early institutional initiatives were 
confined to the new capital of Tokyo. After the Great Ginza Fire, the Meiji 
government issued a statement advocating the building of a fireproof 
city—the Ginza Brick Quarters Project (1872-1877) that was promoted by 
the Minister of Finance, Okuma Shigenobu, and based on British concepts. 

The first city planning legislation in Japan—the Tokyo Town Planning 
Ordinance (1888)—derived from this project was soon superseded by 
the City Planning Act of 1919, which, in turn, was short lived because 
of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. The day after the earthquake, the 
government established the Bureau for Reconstruction of the Imperial 
Capital—an institution under the direct control of the Prime Minister. 

The main mechanism for government intervention into the land 
market was land readjustment that rezoned land over significant parts 
of Tokyo. The institutions dealing with urban planning underwent 
gradual transformations: from 5 April 1919 to 15 July 2018, 235 Tokyo 
City planning laws and regulations, and numerous Cabinet orders, 
were issued. In June 1950, the Capital Construction Law was established 
as a national project to construct Tokyo as a national project. The first 
substantial step towards the post-war reconstruction was made under 
the Tokyo Special City Plan using the land readjustment mechanism for 

The National Capital Region Development Act of April 1956 aimed to 
control development over the greater metropolitan region. Under this 
Act, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government promoted an all-out revision 
of urban plans: parks and green spaces in 1957; expressways in 1959; 
and high-speed railways in 1962. The partial revision of the Building 

8. Urban Planning and the Integration of Land Use and Transport 249 

Standards Act of 1950 in January 1963 resulted in zoning to secure 
open spaces to redress the imbalance between the over-concentrated 
population and urban facilities. 

The Second and Third National Capital Region Development Plans 
(1976 and 1986) both addressed the formulation of policies for “suburban 
development areas” around the existing built-up areas of Toky6 in order 
to develop balanced and well-designed hierarchical urban centres and 
to preserve some green areas but on a much smaller scale than before. 
The Japanese Government has the necessary institutional arrangement 
to achieve integrated approaches, where all modes of transport and 
land development are located in one ministry—the Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. In addition to mode specific 
divisions covering maritime and ports, waterways, roads, railways 
and civil aviation, there is also a division devoted to national spatial 
planning and regional policy. 

Policy outcomes from these institutional arrangements include 
transit-oriented developments (of which Nagoya Station represents 
a world-leading example of integrated land-use and transport), often 
facilitated through the mechanism of land readjustment, and new 
towns, such as Tama Garden City. The Japanese Government has also 
promoted more sustainable cities. Launched in 2011, and promoted by 
the Cabinet Office, eleven Japanese cities were designated as “Future 
Cities”, including Kashiwa, Toyama and Yokohama. In April 2019, 
the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the 
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry jointly promoted the “Smart 
Mobility Challenge” for cities to implement new mobility services (for 
example, Maebashi). Finally, Toyota’s Woven City initiative promises to 
be one model for a city based on sustainable road transport. 

When the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan was endorsed by 
Cabinet in 2016 it introduced Society 5.0 as the sort of society that Japan 
should aspire towards (Government of Japan, Cabinet Office, n.d.). 
Society 5.0 is premised on the broad transitions that have historically 
occurred in Japanese society from archaic to the present when the vision 
for the future is driven by the institution of the national government 
with details of implementation being left to local government, businesses 
and the community. These future challenges for both institutions and 
organisations are explored in the final chapter on Conclusions and 

250 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 


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9. Conclusions 

A state without the means of some change is without the means of its 

Burke, 1987: 106 

Context to the Analysis of Transport Change 

The book has considered the modes of transport in Japan as dynamic 
governance systems that have responded to ever-changing political, 
economic, social and security imperatives, and described how these 
issues have been resolved. These transitions have been interpreted as 
six major time periods as proposed by Ishii (1980: viii): archaic; ancient; 
medieval; early modern; modern; and contemporary. The introductory 
chapter has justified this choice, explained the distinction between 
institutions and organisations and has defined a study area where the 
historical evolution of transport institutions and organisations has been 
described in detail. 

History helps us to understand the past and informs us as to what 
might be relevant for the future. In Japan, a vision of the future—Society 
5.0—has been mapped out (Government of Japan, Cabinet Office, n.d.) 
and is premised on the broad transitions that have historically occurred 
in Japanese society, where Society 4.0 corresponds to contemporary 
Japan in the second decade of the 21st century. The issues, and the 
institutional challenges of Japan Society 5.0, comprise the final parts to 
this chapter. 

To set the socio-political context for this transport history, Chapter 
2 commences with a description of migration from continental Asia 
to the Japanese archipelago, the importation of paddy rice cultivation, 
embryonic state formation, state expansion across the islands of Honshi, 
Kyasha and Shikokai with governance by a succession of powerful 

© John Andrew Black, CC BY-NC 4.0 https: // /OBP.0281.09 

256 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

clan chiefs, Emperors and Court nobles, and warlords at the regional 
level. The institution of Emperor has lasted from ancient times but 
was reduced to ceremonial status under three military governments. 
The unification of Japan was eventually achieved in 1603 under the 
Tokugawa Shogunate that was followed by two-and-a-half centuries 
of peace. This military government was replaced by the institution of 
Emperor in 1868, heralding in modern systems of national, prefecture 
and local government that prevail up to the present day. 

Along with political transformations have come substantial socio- 
technical system transitions. Throughout the history of transport in 
Japan, innovations and policies that relate to the movement of people 
and freight—from archaic times to the present—both civic and civil 
society (mainly from the 16th century )—have been intimately entwined 
in one way or another to deliver progress, change and technological 
and managerial innovation. These major transitions that have taken 
place since archaic times have been covered in detail in Chapters 3-7, 
where the institutions and organisations responsible for governing and 
administrating each transport mode—ports and shipping, canals and 
waterways, roads, railways and airports and civil aviation—have been 
documented. Integrated land-use planning with transport is only a 
modern concept and these developments leading to more sustainable 
urban transport future have been described in Chapter 8. 

All of these chapters have concluding summaries that address the 
key questions raised in the Introduction. In particular, these chapters 
have addressed the following questions for each transport mode: 

e Who were the relevant institutions and organisations in 
society? What were their respective roles in relation to 
the movement of traffic on all transport modes especially 
issues of authority and power relations? 

e Who were the key players behind the changes in these 
institutions and organisations and what tangible things 
did they achieve in the transport sector? 

e To what extent is Japan influenced by overseas ideas in 
the transformation of its institutions, organisations and 

9. Conclusions 257 

Institutional and Organisation Change in Transport by 

Ports and Shipping 

Places to dock ships with variable tidal heights are possibly the oldest of 
man-made elements of transport infrastructure, and it is unsurprising 
that in two millennia port functions and ownership patterns have 
changed substantially. Initially, the ports at Suminoe and Naniwa 
served Imperial purposes for tribute missions and trade. As centralised 
political power declined other players emerged to fill the vacuum. For 
example, Watanabe was originally a port on a shden estate, managed 
by Court nobles, but the port underwent a major transformation in 
late Heian and Kamakura periods, evolving from a warehousing and 
transhipment centre to collection of lumberyards and storehouses 
belonging to religious organisations and rich families. Other examples 
of organisations owning ports included the merchants of Sakai and the 
Buddhist religious order’s trading network at Ishiyama Honganji. 

In the medieval period, warlords usurped the powers formerly 
associated with the court in Kydto to establish military governments 
where daimyo ruled their domains and those with coastal waters could 
use ports to enter into legal and illicit trade and to wage war with other 
domains. Piracy was rife although it was as much an institution of ‘local 
government’ as an illegal organisation. Under the Tokugawa military 
government that lasted for over 250 years, economic growth was largely 
driven by merchant organisations who dominated the workings of ports 
and coastal shipping. When the institution of Emperor was reinstated 
with the Meiji Restoration of 1868, ports were deemed “government- 
owned structures”, which brought them under national government 

After the Second World War, the Port and Harbor Act (1950) 
dramatically shifted port administration from the central government 
to local governments with a “port management body”. However, with 
the increasing container shipping in the 1960s, the Ministry of Transport 
devised a public corporation model that would develop and manage 
international container terminals in Kobe, Yokohama and Nagoya. 
The national government and private companies also invested in these 

258 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

port development authorities (abolished 1977 and replaced by port 
management corporations (PMC). Later, the Kobe-Osaka International 
Port Corporation was launched by a consortium of the national 
government, the City of Kobe, the City of Osaka and city banks. 

These changes to port governance and shipping occurred through 
the actions of individuals. It is less easy in the distant past to consistently 
identify their names, but some examples can be found. The improved 
port at Watanabe, protected by stone levees and piers, was developed by 
Todaiji Temple’s Abbot, Shunjo Chogen, to accommodate oceangoing 
vessels in the transport of building materials for the temples. Piracy 
organisations flourished until they were largely eradicated by an edict 
from one of the powerful warlords Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who then 
incorporated the ships into his own navy for the invasion of Korea. The 
Tokugawa bakufu asked Kawamura Zuiken to plan the secure transport 
of commodities to Edo and developed coastal shipping routes from the 
late 17th century. 

In the early Edo period, the bakufu allowed townspeople to construct 
canals in the marshes, including Dotombori that was completed in 
1615 by the merchant Doton Nariyasu. Suminokura Ryoi (1554-1614) 
excavated several canals in Osaka including the Hozugawa and the 
Takasegawa to facilitate economy activities. Sand and soil excavated 
from these constructions were used in creating the foundations for the 
expansion of the port town. 

Overseas ideas and influences have long been influential in the 
maritime transport sector. The importation of Chinese culture and 
administrative systems (for example, the T’ang Dynasty Oceangoing 
and Marketing Department) were mechanisms for expanding state 
power in the ancient period. The actions of foreign powers, especially 
the U.S.A. in the mid-19th century, not only opened up selected 
Japanese ports for trading, but also had bearing on the events leading 
up to the Meiji Emperor’s Restoration. In the late 19th century, Western 
models of administering public works were introduced by the Japanese 
Government and a Dutch engineer, De Rijke, planned the construction 
of Tempozan in the port of Osaka. General McArthur, during the Allied 
occupation of Japan, implemented port administration based on U.S. 
practice. Finally, following international trends in port governance (for 
example, Brooks, 2004; Brooks et al., 2017), Osaka port privatised its 

9. Conclusions 259 


The story of canals is much simpler because, unlike in continental 
Europe, England and the U.S.A., Honshi never developed a network of 
commercial canals due to its mountainous terrain and fast flowing rivers 
engorged after snow melt and typhoon rain. The main purposes of canal 
construction in Japan have been primarily to irrigate agricultural land, 
to control river flooding, to provide town water and to provide defensive 
moats around castles, of which the 17th century moats of Edo Castle are 
an excellent example of Japanese engineering techniques that received 
no external influences. 

From Yayoi times, irrigation channels would have facilitated the 
local movement of rice and other produce. There have been only three 
substantial canal achievements for transport in the study area. Dating the 
3-km long Horie Canal is difficult but there is no doubt of its importance 
by the 6th and 7th centuries. The Horie canal was completed by Imperial 
command. The canals constructed in Kyoto demonstrate the dynamics 
of the three-way interactions amongst merchant organisations and the 
daimyo and bakufu. Although there have been attempts and proposals to 
link Lake Biwa to the ocean, only the Lake Biwa Canal construction by 
the Kyoto City Government in the late 19th century has been successful. 

In the late 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi revived an ancient plan 
to connect Lake Biwa with the Sea of Japan and ordered the owner of 
Tsuruga lands, Otani Yoshitsugu, to build a canal from Oura on Lake 
Biwa to Tsuruga located on the Sea of Japan. These works were aborted 
because of the difficult mountainous terrain. Between 1605 and 1611, 
Suminokura Ryoi formed an enterprise with the other two leading 
merchant families, Chaya Shirdjiro and Goto Shozabur6d to construct 
canals and to make the four rivers of Kyoto (Tenryu, Takase, Fuji and 
Hozu Rivers) more navigable for shipping goods. In 1868, when the 
national capital was transferred from Kyoto to Tokyo, there was an 
inevitable economic decline experienced in the city. The Prefecture 
Mayor, Kunimichi Kitagaki, commissioned the construction of Lake 
Biwa Canal. The historical significance of this integrated development 
project is that it was the first project in the Meiji era that did not involve 
foreign engineers. 

260 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 


Road administration also has a long and complex history that has the 
role of government as the prime agent, although the role of individuals 
is more difficult to determine with any certainty. Roads served Imperial 
purposes, such as ceremonial links to ancient Kofun burial mounds, 
links to ports for diplomatic missions with overseas nations and, 
importantly, the means of strategic control over the territorial expansion 
of the Yamato State, that included setting up road barriers (sekisho) 
guarding the entrances to the Kinai region. 

The sekisho is one of Japanese oldest institutions, lasting until 1868. 
They were duplicated on national roads, shden estates and, during the 
medieval period, on warlord domains—all providing security and a 
means to raise revenue with a passage toll. The purpose of the sekisho 
reached full fruition under the Tokugawa Shogunate as a government 
control mechanism when five national main highways (and secondary 
roads) were designated radiating from Nihonbashi, Edo. The issue 
of travel permits (passports) was designed to control the movement 
of people by the government, especially any female members of the 
daimyo's family trying to escape from Edo. 

The Tokugawa government edict of an alternative resident system 
was not only a control mechanism of the regional warlords but a way 
of draining their incomes because the entourages travelling to and 
from Ed6 would have to have stopped both regularly and overnight 
at post stations, spending money that provided taxes to the bakufu. As 
restrictions were eased in the middle to late Edo era, commers, often on 
pilgrimages, would too have spent money in post stations. 

As with ports, the Meiji Restoration ushered in new forms of 
government administration and roads. The Home Ministry (Naimusho) 
was established in November 1873 (abolished in December 1947 by 
the Allied Occupation Forces) and roads were included within this 
portfolio. The first general regulation for roads is found in the 1876 Law 
on Road Classification. The Highway Law of 1919 established regulations 
for the road and classification scheme on respective widths, gradients, 
curvatures and bridge construction. As part of Japan’s post-Pacific 
War reconstruction, a memorandum from the Supreme Commander 
for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in 1948 introduced a five-year road plan 

9. Conclusions 261 

to replace the German Autobahn-style highway planning in vogue in 
Japan during the early 1940s. 

Road administration during the modern democratic era can be 
summarised as follows under government direction. In 1952, the 
law concerning Special Measures for Highway Construction (SMHC 
Law) provided loans from a Trust Fund in the Ministry of Finance to 
construct roads and approval for tolls to repay the loan. The Watkins 
Report triggered a flurry of additional highway legislation providing for 
national expressways, national toll roads, revised funding arrangements 
(government bonds, grants to prefectures) and metropolitan 
expressways. For example, the Japan Highway Public Corporation 
was established in April 1956—a non-profit government corporate 
entity established for the purpose of construction and management of 
expressways and ordinary toll roads. 

In recognition that road networks were largely mature, road 
administration was placed within a new “super” ministry—The Ministry 
of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in 2001. Prime 
Minister Koizumi Junichiro established the Committee for Promoting 
Privatisation of Four Highway-related Public Corporations and in 
June 2004, The Privatization Bill was passed in the Diet in June 2004. 
Six joint-stock highway corporations (one-third government owned) 
were created and an independent administrative agency, the Japan 
Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency (JEHDRA) was 
established to function as an asset-holding and debt-servicing public 
organisation (the agency will be dissolved once the loan repayment is 
completed by 2050). 

There is plenty of evidence that overseas influences were important 
to the development of the Japanese road sector. Road design, such 
as widths, the planting of shade trees by the side of the road and the 
location of post stations, were influenced by Chinese practice. German 
Autobahn-inspired planning was popular with governments of the 
1930s and 1940s. In the modern democratic era, highway design was 
derived from the U.S. Highway Capacity Manual. Road improvement 
programs had a strong American influence due to the involvement of 
economic specialists led by Dr Ralph Watkins whose report triggered a 
flurry of additional highway legislation. 

262 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 


The governance of railways has a much shorter history, only from the 
late 19th century when both public and private sectors were involved. In 
October 1872, the first line opened between Tokyo and Yokohama under 
the management of the Ministry of Public Works. Other government 
routes were completed in the 1870s until a cash-strapped government 
allowed the private sector to build and operate railways. Soon, the 
Japanese Government realised the strategic importance of railways 
and enacted the Railway Nationalization Act (1906) purchasing leading 
private railway companies. Japan Government Railways became a 
virtual monopoly of railway business until the Allied Occupation Forces 
instructed the Japanese Government to reorganise government railways 
into a public corporation that lasted until 1987 when Japan National 
Railways was divided into regional operations and privatised. Private 
railways continued to operate low traffic and largely rural services. 
Private companies also managed urban subways and light rail. 

The greatest government railway achievement, show-cased to 
the world at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, was the successful 
completion of the “bullet train”. It opened the way for the Shinkansen 
program that was an exemplary international example of a national 
government development program as part of a national socio-economic 
system. Japan National Railways initiated research ona linear propulsion 
railway system in 1962. When Japan National Railways was privatised 
in 1987, the development of the maglev system was taken over by the 
Central Japan Railway Company. The Maglev Chuo Shinkansen between 
Tokyo and Osaka is expected to open in 2045. 

In terms of Japanese personalities who influenced railway technology, 
three names stand out—two from the private sector; the other from the 
public sector. Kobayashi Inchiz6 is recognised in Japan as a pioneer 
of private railway companies and their diversified business model, 
which includes land-use development along the route of a railway. 
Otsuka Koreaki, the manager of the Sanuki Railway and the Nankai 
Railway, followed U.S. management practices and installed a tearoom 
in the first-class carriage, employed young women as waitresses and 
transferred much of the authority to the train supervisor. The “Tokaido 
Shinkansen”, when it opened for passenger services in 1964 owed much 
to the vision of the President of the JNR, Sogo Shinji, at a time that 

9. Conclusions 263 

railways, worldwide, were in decline. It is a fair assessment to say he 
helped initiate a global “railway renaissance”. 

Overseas’ pressure, first from the Russians, to introduce railway 
technology culminated with the British Minister to Japan, Harry 
Parkes, successfully lobbying that railways using British technology 
and expertise be introduced to Japan. In April 1870, the Japanese 
Government hired the British engineer, Edmund Morel, as its first 
Engineer-in-Chief, who advised on the establishment of the Ministry of 
Public Works, on engineering education and administration and on the 
formation of an engineering college (later, the Tokyo Imperial Technical 
University). The private railway companies in cities, including Osaka 
and Toky6, were especially innovative, including importing U.S. railway 
technology and developing land and associated land-use activities, such 
as department stores. 

Aviation and Airports 

Both the government and the private sectors were initially involved 
with aircraft design and manufacture and in providing civilian flights 
at a time when airfields were rudimentary when compared to those of 
the 21st century. Japanese aeronautical engineering advanced quickly 
and introduced distinctive innovations, such as the Nakajima aircraft. 
The Japanese Government stepped in as an airline operator when it 
established the Japan Air Transport Corporation (JAT) in 1928 as the 
national flag carrier. JAT absorbed private companies. Military aviation 
expanded during the 1930s at the expense of civil aviation until 1945 
when airfields were taken over by Allied occupying forces. When civilian 
air transport resumed in 1953, Japan Air Lines (JAL) was established as 
a major private company servicing domestic and international markets. 

In the case of airport development, the Japanese government was 
cash strapped in the post-war period. The paving of the taxiway and 
apron at Haneda came from the national budget. However, to restore 
the airport as an international gateway, the Japanese Cabinet decided 
to build a terminal with private capital, and, in 1953, The Japan Airport 
Terminal Co., Ltd. was established through the cooperation of major 
Japanese businesses. Airports are regulated by the Aeronautical Law 
(1952) with regard to safety, the Noise Prevention Law (1967) with regard 
to environmental noise, and the Airport Development Law (1956) with 

264 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

regard to airport developments. Recently, major airports (for example, 
Kansai) have been funded by private-sector consortia using the private 
financing initiative (PFI). 

The individuals who have shaped the pioneering Japanese aviation 
sector both came from the military sector. In the first decade of the 
20th century, two members of the Imperial Navy argued against the 
then prevailing doctrine of land-based warfare. They were Lieutenant 
Commander Akiyama Saneyuki, who lectured at the Naval Staff College 
in Tokyo on the advances in aviation technology, and Lieutenant 
Commander Yamamoto Eisuke, who presented a written statement on 
aviation to his superiors. Both the military and the civilian government 
recognised the potential of aviation. 

The successive reshaping of Japan’s aviation has happened under 
French, British, German and American influence with technological 
transfer a key element. In the modern democratic period, aviation 
is strongly regulated by international and bilateral agreements 
and technical innovation through the International Civil Aviation 
Organisation (ICAO). In addition, foreign trends in aviation policy are 
influential. New airline entrants have been allowed, there have been 
bankruptcies and mergers, the industry has been de-regulated (for 
example, the Civil Aeronautics Law was revised at the end of 1994 to relax 
the conditions for introducing and setting discount fares in domestic 
markets) with, today, eight major carriers in the international passenger, 
domestic passenger and freight markets. 

Integrated Land Use and Transport 

Fromaninstitutional perspective, spatial planning, and divisionscovering 
all modes of transport, are found within the Ministry of Infrastructure, 
Land, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). Important characteristics of the 
Japan planning framework that has allowed integrated developments 
include a government-directed land readjustment program, government 
new town initiatives building on the private-sector model of suburban 
railway developments and transit-oriented developments that have 
created some stunning architectural spaces, such as Kyoto Station and 
the world’s largest railway (and maglev) station in Nagoya. Whilst 
the Western literature suggests transit-oriented development is an 
American planning concept, Chapter 8 has convincingly demonstrated 

9. Conclusions 265 

that, for decades, it has been part and parcel of the Japanese private 
railway business model, as demonstrated by the career described in the 
autobiography written by Kobayashi Inchizo (Kobayashi, 1989). 

Further Research 

The methodology and approach described in this book have application 
to any jurisdiction and any time period, as defined by the researcher. 
In the case of Japan, there are obvious avenues for further original 
research to that underpinning this book, especially by researchers, 
versed in the Japanese written and spoken language, who can access 
primary historical data and conduct interviews with key informants 
about contemporary transport modes. Research designs could embrace 
any, or all, time horizons, any, or all, transport modes, could be locally 
based, sub-regional or regional, and could be urban or rural in their 
focus. Higher education thesis work across the country, collectively, 
could add up to a rich understanding of how transport institutions and 
organisations have changed over time. Equally, similar approaches to 
research framing could be applied to any jurisdiction in the world. 

Japan Society 5.0—Visions 

The fourth question posed in the introduction to this book was: what 
might the future in Japan look like in terms of institutions, society 
and transport? Who will be the visionary leaders in transport and 
organisational change in the Japanese society of the future? The current 
leaders of Japan envisage a fundamentally different society and have 
given it a name. “Society 5.0” (Government of Japan, Cabinet Office, 
n.d.) is premised on the broad transitions that have historically occurred 
in Japanese society—from the initial society of the hunter gatherers of the 
Jomon period (c. 10,000 B.C. to c. 300 B.C.) to Society 2.0 with the paddy 
rice cultivation during the Yayoi period (c. 300 B.C. to c. 300 A.D.), then 
Society 3.0 from ancient to medieval times and the early industrialised 
state to Society 4.0 (the information society) that approximates to 
contemporary Japan in the third decade of the 21st century. 

In November 1995, Japan enacted the Science and Technology Basic 
Law. The Science and Technology Basic Plan aims to comprehensively 
and systematically advance science and technology policy. The 5th 

266 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Science and Technology Basic Plan was endorsed by a Cabinet Decision 
on 22 January 2016, covering the 5-year period between the fiscal years 
2016-2021. The plan introduced Society 5.0 as the sort of society that 
Japan should aspire towards. The essential characteristics of Society 5.0 
are identified as follows: 

[...] information from sensors in physical space is accumulated in 
cyberspace. In cyberspace, this big data is analyzed by artificial 
intelligence (AI), and the analysis results are fed back to humans in 
physical space in various forms” (Government of Japan, Cabinet Office, 
n.d.: a). 

Information technologies in every industrial sector, and in social 
activities, will address stagnant economic growth and solutions to 
emerging social and environmental problems including meeting the 
United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Japanese Government mentions “smart cities” as a desirable 
policy goal. Funding for experimental demonstration projects have been 
completed in various cities, to the extent that the government believes 
Japan is on the verge of a major transition from the present “Society 
4.0” to a future “Society 5.0” that has only been sketchily outlined and, 
so far, subject to limited academic scrutiny and relevant peer-reviewed 
publications. Holroyd (2020) explores the conceptual background, 
rationale, policies and programmes Japan has enacted in pursuit of 
the visions of Society 5.0. Gladden (2019) investigates the presumed 
human-centeredness of Society 5.0 by comparing its makeup with that 
of earlier societies. The frameworks and analyses developed ina research 
monograph by the University of Tokyo and Hitachi (Hitachi-UTokyo 
Laboratory, 2020) look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Society 
5.0 paradigm and potential benefits and dangers of its implementation. 

An initial step towards achieving Society 5.0 was made when, in 
August 2019, the Japanese Government established the Smart City 
Public-Private Partnership Platform to promote collaboration to achieve 
Society 5.0 with more than 100 cities and more than 300 companies and 
research institutions signed up. As part of the broader Society 5.0 vision, 
Japan has 229 smart city projects in 157 areas. The platform supports 
projects with knowledge exchange, business-matching and closer ties 
between public, private and academia. 

The transformation to Society 5.0 is predicated on achieving “smart 
cities” of the future of which the transport sector is prominent. The 

9. Conclusions 267 

Japanese Government’s policy goals are, for an “inclusive” society, to 
reduce road and public transport congestion; to lower CO, emissions; 
to reduce road traffic accidents; and to stimulate mobility consumption 
(especially the purchase of autonomous vehicles and “smart”, self-driving 
wheelchairs for the elderly). New “added value” to mobility is generated 
through the artificial intelligence (AI) analyses of big data in a database 
spanning diverse types of information that might include sensor data 
from motor vehicles, real-time information on the weather, road traffic 
conditions, accommodation, food and drink and an individual’s personal 
history (Government of Japan, Cabinet Office, n.d.: b). 

More specific transport challenges being faced in Society 5.0 are 
contained in the 2020 White Paper issued by the Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (Policy Bureau, Ministry of 
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, 2020). The report outlines 
a range of challenges facing Japan including climate change, keeping 
safe from disasters, achieving a sustainable infrastructure maintenance 
cycle, securing regional transport and making use of new technologies. 
In order to provide a rationale for speculation on what this means for 
institutional and organisation change, the next section provides an 
historical perspective by contrasting Society 4.0 with its predecessor, 
followed by some ideas on role of the national government in Society 
5.0, before analysing institutional and organisational change using four 
contemporary problems as examples. 

Speculations on Society 5.0 

First, it is worth reflecting on the key similarities and differences in Japan 
Society 3.0 and Japan 4.0. with respect to road transport and personal 
mobility (Table 29). Governments of both societies formulated clear 
policies for roads, and both societies had mechanisms for maintaining 
roads. Of course, the vehicle technologies and the power to move those 
vehicles are dramatically different. Travel is a derived demand from the 
socio-economic activities in which people are engaged, so it is in these 
aspects of society that the most profound changes have occurred. 

In an agrarian society the majority of the population were farmers 
and were tied to the land. In addition, both bakufu and han (provincial) 
governments restricted the movement of ordinary people unless there 
were successful applications to obtain a travel permit. Spatial restrictions 

268 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

were in place with little change in inter-generational occupations. Society 

was very static. The qualitative transitions to Society 4.0 included: a 

reduction in transaction and travel costs; removal of the Confucian class 

system; an expansion in occupations; unbounded personal mobility; 

inter- and intra-regional migration; choice of residential and workplace 

locations; and expectations, and optimism, that, over time, prosperity 

and well-being would continue to increase. 

Table 29. Characteristics of Societies 3.0 and 4.0—Road Transport and 

Source: Author. 

Characteristic of 

Society 3.0 

Society 4.0 

Road Governance 

Policies formulated by 
bakuhan system 

Policies formulated by 
national government 

Road Funding Impost by bakufu National and prefecture 
on daimyo (han) governments budget 
government plus local allocations with money 
corvée raised from taxation 

Personal Mobility Highly regulated market | Intra- and inter-regional 

migration, unrestricted 
travel in domestic and 
international markets 

Daily routines 

Fixed, and tied to 
agricultural seasons; 
barter and markets 

Flexible; commuting; 
shopping malls; on-line 

Transport Technology | Horses, carts, norimono, | Motor vehicles, taxis, 
kago, walking buses, coaches, trucks, 
jinrikisha, bicycles, 
Mass Communications | Written edicts nailed on | Newspapers”, radio, 
posts; gossip cinema, television, 
Transport Energy Animals and humans Petroleum, diesel, 
Sources batteries, hydrogen 
Working Conditions Every day except Regulated working 
festivals hours, paid vacations, 
public holidays 

*The first Japanese daily newspaper that covered foreign and domestic news was 
the Yokohama Mainichi Shinbun (#84 8 #1fa), first published in 1871. 

9. Conclusions 269 

The chapters of this book have demonstrated that transitions are 
processes that have required continuous adaptations, where the 
institutions of governments had significant agency. The governance 
challenges will be negotiations with the changing networks of actors, 
relationships involving power and resources, understanding new 
patterns of consumption and determining how shifts in future mobility 
are regulated, priced and taxed. The primary role of the national 
government is how this transition will be efficiently and equitably 
managed, although Docherty (et al.,2017:123) suggest that it is “difficult 
to be optimistic’, based on the failure of all national governments in 
managing the global problem of car dependency that started in the 
second half of the 20th century. 

It can be speculated that the role of the central government will decline 
in relative terms. In Japan, the national government is driving Society 
5.0 forward, although, in its promise to devolve decision making, the 
unspecified details of its implementation are left to local government, 
businesses and the community to work out. Indeed, a key overarching 
message from the national government is a commitment to work 
more effectively with all relevant stakeholders than has been the case. 
Morimoto (2021, Chapter 10) points out one of the most difficult issues in 
city planning and transport is consensus building with stakeholders and 
this in itself requires reform in how governments go about their business. 

One probable reform that will distinguish Society 5.0 from earlier 
models used Japanese by governments will be the introduction of “agile 
governance”. Agile governance requires a diverse range of stakeholders, 
including governments, businesses, individuals, and communities 
who will carry out ongoing analysis of the social situations they find 
themselves in, define the goals they seek to achieve, design the various 
systems for achieving these goals and carry out ongoing dialogue-based 
assessments of outcomes to make improvements to these systems (Japan, 
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2021: v). Governance-related 
issues for realising Society 5.0 are wide ranging, from privacy, system 
security and transparency to the allocation of responsibilities and cyber 
security. The underlying proposition is that Society 5.0 will be socially 
fluid in terms of its (yet to be determined goals) requiring governments 
to be more flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances than is 
currently the case: solutions are constantly revised to ensure their 
optimality based on conditions and goals that constantly change. 

270 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

The implications of this agile governance for future transport policy 
making is clear. For example, the past goals set for urban transport 
planning have been primarily solving congestion from growing demand 
based on economic and environmental considerations (a classic systems 
approach). In the area of transport and mobility such challenges in 
Japan include debt-burdened governments’ abilities to finance new 
infrastructure and maintenance, automation and consumer behaviour 
in the opportunities opening up in an accelerating digital economy. 
In the future, goals will be designed to continuously and rapidly 
conditions and risk analysis”, 

Wow Wt 

run cycles of “goal-setting”, system 
design”, “operations”, “evaluation” (with a full range of economic, 
environmental and social inputs), and “solutions” (Figure 9) in a closer 
partnership of the civic and civil spheres of society. Communications 
will be best described as “two-way symmetrical communication” as 

opposed to one-way asymmetrical communication (see Black, 1997). 

Conditions & 
Risks analysis 

> [mp lermenttation a 

Impact by External Systems Impact on External Systems 
(Transparency & Accountability) 

Figure 9. Japanese Concept of Agile Governance. 

Source: reproduced from Japan, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2021: 
Fig. 1.2, p. 8. 

The rapidity of actions needed to constantly monitor the need to 
implement the cycles in Figure 9 imply that a greater spatial devolution 
of decision making is required. Society 5.0 should facilitate “innovation 
by citizens and for citizens” (Deguchi and Karasawa, 2020: 165) and this 

9. Conclusions 271 

suggests that more leadership at the local government level is required. 
However, more work needs to be done also to engage citizens and 
users and to prepare a climate that continuously facilitates bottom-up, 
grassroots initiatives. Local governments must work out how they will 
gather local data on the physical space such as roads, buildings, people 
movements and vehicular traffic, and how they will develop platforms 
that integrate effective Big Data into cyberspace infrastructure. 

The aspiration of agile governance is that cyberspace will facilitate 
citizen-led, community-based planning by allowing citizens to be 
involved in the gathering and collating of Big Data (e.g., mobile spatial 
data or real-time people-flow data replacing the periodic person trip 
surveys conducted by consultants to government) and of the sharing 
and evaluating future visions (Deguchi et al., 2020b: 94) for local 
places. This would involve regulatory easing where government data 
are made available as open data. According to Deguchi and Karasawa 
(2020: 161), planners must achieve a perspective of harmony between 
individual and group interests when designing the environment and 
institutions, as the “principle of honouring human dignity requires no 
less.” All of this seems to be predicated on a substantial shift in values 
from the current position of a predominantly paternalist government, 
foe example, in road planning—described by Healy (1977: 205) as “a 
positivist procedure which has been criticized as technical and elitist”— 
to genuine co-production in transport planning and implementation 
and solving mobility problems. 

To provide more detail about agile governance in Japan, four specific 
challenges are selected for analysis from the documentation on Society 
5.0: the international competitiveness of the Japanese automotive 
industry, value added smart applications to mobility and government- 
industry responses to maintaining the mobility of older citizens with 
autonomous driving vehicles; an ageing population and the problem 
of the decline in rural towns and villages; the ever-present threat of 
natural disasters and building for resilience; and aviation safety and 
security. Whilst Japan has many more problems where institutional 
and organisational reforms are required, all four of these challenges are 
closely related to the movement of people and freight. 

272 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Personal Mobility and Autonomous Driverless Vehicles 

Organisations will become more dominant in Society 5.0 than has 
been the case. For example, there is a strong belief in the Japanese 
vehicle manufacturing sector that technology can help solve personal 
mobility problems, without over-burdening the energy sector, adding 
to environmental pollution and solving road safety problems, as has 
been outlined with the example of Toyota’s Woven City Project (Chapter 
8). The transition to “green energy” will be complete by mid-century, 
under government-formulated targets, but implemented by private- 
sector energy providers. 

Digital players, supported by mega-fund investors, are revamping 
Japan’s long-stagnant taxi industry (Agarwal et al., 2018). Japanese car 
manufacturers are producing hydrogen fuel technology cars (Pollet 
et al., 2019, Table 1, p. 91), where the role of government might be to 
give incentives to potential buyers (as in California) to expand the 
market penetration of this technology. Already local governments are 
promoting a hydrogen economy with, for example, the City of Tokyo 
deploying hydrogen fuel cell buses during the 2021 Summer Olympic 
Games and setting a longer-term goal of putting 200,000 such buses into 
service by 2025 (Phillips, 2019). 

The third and fourth decades of the 21st century will reveal 
closer collaboration and cooperation amongst all sections of civil 
and civic society in Japan. Twenty years ago, Cabinet established the 
Strategic Headquarters for the Promotion of Advanced Information 
and Telecommunications, with its roadmap of autonomous vehicle 
development. The roadmap has been updated annually since 2014, 
and the Promotion of Advanced Information and Telecommunications 
(2019: 103-111) illustrates the 2019 version. Distinctive features of 
the roadmap are the respective scenarios for three types applications: 
passenger vehicles; logistics services; and public transport services. 
Developments in information technology and software engineering by 
the private sector will deliver enhance tools to make supply chains more 
efficient and reliable. 

Examples of leveraging “big data” for supply chain resilience are 
Toyota’s “RESCUE,” developed with Fujitsu, and a visualisation system 
called the Local Economic Driver Index (LEDIX)—a private sector 
collaboration between the Teikoku Data Bank and Takram (World 

9. Conclusions 273 

Bank, 2020, Fig. 2.4, p. 22). These systems will be applied to map out 
logistical supply chains in order to understand rapidly the impacts of 
supply chain disruptions and opportunities for economic development, 
including post-disaster recovery (World Bank, 2020: 84). 

This technological revolution in the transport sector has demanded 
increased inter-ministerial cooperation. In 2015, Prime Minister Abe 
Shinzo announced the 2015 revision of the Japan Revitalization Strategy 
that included, as a strategic item, autonomous driving vehicles, and 
in doing so established the Panel on Business Strategies in Automated 
Driving in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), 
and in MLIT. The panel was tasked to resolve current problems, and 
to formulate actions that would secure Japan’s competitiveness in the 
field of autonomous driving systems and would solve various societal 
problems, such as road congestion, road safety and personal mobility 
for the elderly (Ki, 2020: 31). The major governmental players in the 
Japanese autonomous vehicle policy making are the Ministry of Internal 
Affairs and Communications (MIC), METI, MLIT and National Police 
Agency. To support this panel, SIP was established as the Japanese 
government's cross-ministerial research and development program (Ki, 
2020: Fig.3.1., p. 33). 

Within this institution, the Promoting Committee for SIP Automated 
Driving Research Project was formed with input from government, 
industry and experts drawn from universities (Ki, 2020, Fig. 3.4, p. 
34). The Project Director is from the Toyota Motor Corporation, with 
sub-project directors drawn from universities, consultancy and the 
automotive industry. Other members include the Cabinet Office, 
the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and 
Communication (MIC), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry 
(METI) and the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 
(MLIT) together with industry and academic experts. Research and 
development is outsourced to industry and academic research groups. 

Whilst research and development are imperative to transform 
the transport sector, the major obstacles to the introduction of fully 
driverless vehicles (Level 5) are legal and regulatory, not technology. 
Less than six months after the National Police Agency’s proposal, the 
Japanese Diet enacted amendments to the Road Traffic Act allowing 
Level 3 automated vehicles to be used on public roads from May 2020. 
Level 3 automated vehicles are capable of driving without the need for 

274 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

the driver to monitor the dynamic driving task, or the road and the 
roadside driving environment, but the law does require the driver be in 
a position to resume control, if needed. The issue of transfer of control 
between vehicle and driver has proved controversial, and the Japanese 
automotive industry is split as to whether this can be done safely. In 
March 2021, Honda launched the world’s most advanced self-driving 
car using “level 3” autonomous driving technology, with an initial batch 
of 100 Legend models in Japan (Sugiura, 2021). 

Recommendations from a report by a National Police Agency (NPA) 
on 1 April 2021 on “level 4” self-driving vehicles is that they should be 
held responsible for following the traffic rules and be operable without 
the need for a human with a driving license. However, the report did 
not clarify the primary responsible party for accidents or law violations. 
Trials with a view to the practical use of “level 4” technology are already 
underway. The Japanese government aims to start these public transport 
services (especially targeting the elderly) in some areas in 2022 and 
hopes to make them commonplace nationwide by 2025. The NPA will 
conduct studies at the same time with the objective of revisioning the 
Road Traffic Act (Machida, 2021). 

The future challenge is to take experience from the numerous 
demonstrations and trials undertaken across Japan and convert them into 
operational systems of automated vehicles, freight vehicles and public 
transport—with all systems regulated by the national government. All 
trials have involved multiple actors and the future land transport in 
Japan will involve more service delivery actors than at present. 

To illustrate this complexity, in March 2021, a demonstration 
experiment of a self-driving bus (with two attendants and space for six 
passengers) was conducted by the Council for Area Development and 
Management of Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakucho, in Tokyo. The 
trial comprised of companies, and others in the neighborhood, and the 
Japanese telecom giant SoftBank’s subsidiary Boldly Inc. (formerly SB 
Drive), which develops autonomous driving technology (Michinaga, 
2021). The bus made five to eight round trips a day on an about 350-metre 
straight section between the Marunouchi Building and the Marunouchi 
Park Building at a speed of about 6 km/h. The bus runs on the right side 
of the street (Japanese drive on the left), and automatically stops when 
people walk or cross the street in front of it. 

9. Conclusions 275 

Finally, anew industry that adds value to personal mobility inthe form 
of digital applications will emerge and one that will require government 
regulation over communication security and personal privacy. Given 
the increasing computational power and miniaturisation of personal 
devises, such as smart watches, it is easy to imagine a world where access 
to a “device” through face and voice recognition allows instantaneous 
access and retrieval of information about any dimension of proposed 
travel. Required information might be, but is not limited to, about: the 
journey /destination (mode, time, make bookings for a driverless vehicle, 
or map out the route for a personal, autonomous vehicle level 5); and, 
more importantly, through artificial intelligence (AI) get a personalised 
itinerary for things to do with detailed descriptions at the destination, 
such as tourist sites, hot springs, shopping, cafes, restaurants, etc, 
given the Japanese love of taking photographs and videos that are 
automatically stored on the “cloud”, the whole experience of that trip 
retrieved afterwards and communicated to family and friends if desired. 

Ageing Population and Rural Shrinkage 

Japan, along with many other countries, is facing a population decline 
(National Institute of Population and Social Security, 2018; cited in 
Central Japan Railway Company, 2020: 16) together with an ageing 
demographic structure that have several implications for transport. 
These include: a decline in the total amount of daily travel (unless offset 
by a change in immigration policy or substantial boosts to tourism); 
marginally less peak-period commuter traffic with working from home; 
a reduced income taxation base to fund transport infrastructure and 
maintenance; and a higher proportion of elderly people who have 
grown up with access to personal transport and a desire to maintain 
that independence. The value-added mobility system outlined above 
will assist greatly the future mobility of the elderly. Responses to these 
challenges are being initiated by local government and the private sector. 

A shrinking population, coupled with the outmigration of the young 
to larger cities, has resulted in a deteriorating economic situation for 
small towns in Japan. Public projects implemented top-down under 
the Comprehensive National Development Plans have undermined the 
rural municipalities’ capacity to independently promote context-tailored 

276 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

development (Chang, 2018). The absence of innovation in counter- 
shrinkage policies stems from several structural factors that need to be 
addressed: the highly centralised policy-making process; sectionalism in 
the central bureaucracy; financial independency of rural municipalities; 
and the nostalgic pro-regrowth mind-set by many conservative 

Champions need to emerge from organisations that can address the 
problems of rural Japan. Drawing on a case study methodology from 
four shrinking communities in Minami and Uchiko, Shikoki Island, 
Chang (2018) investigated examples of community re-vitalisation. 
Apathy in the local institutions for change and low resident engagement 
were identified to be the two main barriers to starting initiatives. Both of 
them stem from the sense of resignation and powerlessness nurtured in 
the local people by decades-long decline and policy neglect. Successful 
local programs were instigated by intermediate organisers who acted 
as catalysts creating a future vision of the place, building trust-based 
networks of motivated residents, organising collaborative activities and 
bringing in external funding and knowledge that created connections 
with various key actors outside of the communities. 

The challenge for governments is to devise policies on the processes 
of building local capacity that prepare the foundation to implement 
locally-based approaches to arresting rural decline in Japan. Inspiration 
for such policy development could come from the Cittaslow (Slow 
City) approach that is a sustainable development model addressing 
rural shrinkage and promoting the quality of life in rural communities 
(Cittaslow, n.d.). Legally established in March 2001 in Greve, Italy, by 
the General Secretary, Marzio Marini, “Cittaslow—Rete Internazionale 
delle citta del buon vivere”, has now grown into a global network of 
over 272 participating towns (as of February 2021). 

Natural Disasters and Resilience 

The central government will continue its role in legislation and 
emergency funding around natural disasters. The resilience of industrial 
sectors, firms and supply chains is prioritised under national policies 
(Ebisudani and Tokai, 2017: 81-82), including: the Basic Act for National 
Resilience Contributing to Preventing and Mitigating Disasters for Developing 
Resilience in the Lives of the Citizenry (2013); the Fundamental Plan for 

9. Conclusions 277 

National Resilience (2014, updated in 2018); and the annual Action Plan for 
National Resilience (since 2014). At the subnational level, key industrial 
areas, such as Aichi Prefecture and Kawasaki City, have integrated 
resilient industry as one of the key pillars of their Fundamental Plans 
for Regional Resilience. 

It can be said with certainty that Japan will face major natural 
catastrophes. Japan is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, such as 
tsunamis and storm surges (The World Bank, 2020, Table 2.3, p. 35). 
These predicted seismic events are expected to cause significant 
economic, asset and financial damages, requiring up to 20 years for 
recovery and reconstruction. Additionally, future massive storm surges 
and large-scale river floods are expected to cause major impacts to the 
large metropolises of Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya—all key manufacturing 
hubs (World Bank, 2020: 34). 

In the past, the public sector has played the leading role in ensuring 
infrastructure’s resilience. These institutional arrangements have now 
evolved to public-private agreements that have enabled substantial 
reductions in the length of time that services have been disrupted. For 
example, highways were reopened six days after the 2011 earthquake 
and tsunami in Northeast Japan, because of the prearranged contracts 
between the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism 
and local construction companies (Ranghieri and Ishiwatari, 2014). 
There is going to be a greater role in the future for private-sector 
enterprises in disaster resilience—all predicted on the development of 
smart applications and documentation. 

Manufacturing industries are often clustered together in industrial 
estates, making them key sites for collaborative interventions. Industry 
stakeholders could work together to strengthen zone-wide capacities 
for disaster risk preparedness and response. Key resilience strategies 
include promoting mutually beneficial business continuity plans 
amongst member firms. Industry stakeholders can also help build 
strategic partnerships between member firms and governments, 
critical infrastructure providers and operators and financial institutions 
for disaster contingency planning. Industrial parks may be able to 
gain collective access to financing for any resilient infrastructure 
improvements and post-disaster support (World Bank, 2020: 5). 

The future institutional arrangements in the aftermath of disasters is 
for national and local governments to establish greater cooperation with 

278 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

private firms to develop prearranged agreements for recovery work. 
Private firms and industry associations have an incentive to cooperate 
in the quick recovery of the critical infrastructure essential to business 
continuity, economic loss minimisation and industry competitiveness. 
By minimising the disruption time to infrastructure services, such as 
transport, industries remain connected to their supply chains. 

Aviation Safety and Security 

Governments have a responsibility to ensure aviation safety and security 
against terrorism. The Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure and Transport is the competent authority in aviation 
security, sets the standards for security measures to be implemented by 
air carriers, airport operators and other organisations concerned and 
therefore will continue to be a major transport agent in the future. Safety 
measures are being actively introduced in Japan on the basis of new 
technology and in accordance with international standards, through 
the activities such as: aircraft inspections; competence certification for 
airmen; and supervision of the operation and maintenance systems of 
the air carriers. 

On the basis of the new CNS/ATM plans of the ICAO, the installation 
of next-generation aviation safety systems is being promoted in Japan 
(Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism, 2021). Multifunctional transport satellites (MTSAT) both for 
aeronautical missions, including air traffic control, and for meteorological 
missions, including weather observation, have been launched, and an 
important challenge for aviation will be the continuous update of this 

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA Centre for Aviation, 2010) 
considered whether the leadership of Prime Minister, Kan Naoto (in 
office, 2010-2011) would bring with it any change in aviation policy and, 
importantly, the report looked at the forces of inertia in the bureaucracy 
that needed overcoming. The Government of Japan has continued to 
maintain tight control over its aviation market, creating barriers for both 
domestic firms and foreign competitors through tolerating political 
coordination, protectionist policies and limiting landing slots and airport 
access. “Current regulations are incongruous with facilitating increased 

9. Conclusions 279 

exposure and competitiveness for the Japanese aviation market in the 
international arena” (Cronin, 2013: 1). 

In fact, there are some within the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, 
Transport and Tourism who “desire fair and transparent allocations” 
of landing slots (Cronin, 2013: 13). Whether these opaque and 
uncompetitive regulatory frameworks surrounding the Japanese 
aviation industry have been redressed remains uncertain, but what is 
certain is that post-Covid 19, as with all counties, Japan will have to 
resurrect its domestic and international airline industry. Challenges 
also arise in formulating airspace regulations of drones delivering 
parcels, and in managing the emerging industry of commuting by small 
autonomous driving aircraft. 

Final Note 

In Blue Ocean Strategy, Kim and Mauborgne (2005) describe how to create 
uncontested market space that will render the existing competition 
irrelevant, imaginatively telling the reader to picture a market universe 
composed of two sorts of oceans: red oceans and blue oceans. Red oceans 
represent all the industries in existence today (and, inter alia, all of the 
institutions and organisations dealing with transport). In contrast, blue 
oceans represent all of the industries “not in existence today” (Kim and 
Mauborgne, 2005: 4). This requires, for any jurisdiction in the world, 
imagining, and strategically mapping out, an entirely new infrastructure 
planning and transport sector for both institutions and organisations. 
This is clearly beyond the scope of this book, but the historical survey 
contained in it might give inspiration to those willing to take up the 
challenge. The framework of the new institutional economics, and the 
general questions posed about institutional and organisational change 
in the first chapter of this book, will provide the starting points for such 
an ambitious investigation. 

For example, an in-depth institutional analysis of contemporary 
transport institutions and organisations (the agents) needs undertaking, 
and interviews with key players must be conducted to gain a deeper 
understanding of challenges and issues. This type of brief would 
normally be undertaken by domestic or international consultancy 
organisations. Creative solutions for institutional and organisational 

280 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

reform need to be designed. Stakeholder and community input to 
this process will be essential with transparency in the way options are 
framed. A business case must be presented to decision makers where 
options are given together with estimates of costs and the identification 
of benefits on quantitative and qualitative scales. When there truly is 
a need to change, and it is widely supported in Japan, in the words 
of Andressen (2002: 149-150), “the system can alter course relatively 
quickly and effectively”. 


Agarwal, S. D. Luczak, R. Mathis, Ichiro Otobe, and Yoshishige Shiota (2018) 
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Andressen, C. (2002) A Short History of Japan: From Samurai to Sony. Allen & 
Unwin, Crows Nest, New South Wales. 

Black J.A. (1997) “Policy Processes and Noise and Air Quality Management 
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Brooks, M. (2004) “The Governance Structure of Ports”, Review of Network 
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Brooks, M. R., K. P. B. Cullinane and A. A. Pallis (2017) “Revisiting Port 
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CAPA Centre for Aviation (2010) “Japan Aviation Policy under a Kan-do 
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Central Japan Railway Company (2020) Central Japan Railway Company: Annual 
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Chang, Heuishilja (2018) “The Resilience of Shrinking Communities in Rural 
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Cittaslow (n.d.) “Cittaslow International” Charter, 

9. Conclusions 281 

Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 
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Cronin, P. M. (2013) “Taking Off: Civil Aviation, Forward Progress and Japan’s 
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Deguchi, Atsushi and Kaori Karasawa (2020) “Issues and Outlook”, in Hitachi- 
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Deguchi, Atsushi, Chiaki Hirai, Hideyuki Matsuoka, Taku Nakano, Kohei 
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Docherty, I., G. Marsden and J. Anable (2017) “The Governance of Smart 
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Government of Japan, Cabinet Office (n.d.) “Society 5.0”, https://www68.cao. 

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Japan, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (2021) Governance Innovation 
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Policy Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 
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Pollet, B. G., S. S. Kocha and I. Staffe (2019) “Current Status of Automobile Fuel 
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the Great East Japan Earthquake. World Bank, Washington, D. C. 

9. Conclusions 283 

The Japan Times (2021) “Toyota Begins Building Smart City near Mount Fuji”, 
The Japan Times, https: // /news/2021/02/23/business/ 
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Sugiura, Eri (2021) “Backseat Driver: How Honda Stole the Lead 
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World Bank (2020) Resilient Industries in Japan: Lessons Learned in Japan on 
Enhancing Competitive Industries in the Face of Disasters Caused by Natural 
Hazards. World Bank, Washington, D. C. 

List of Figures 

Chapter 3 

Screen Painting of Takamatsu Castle and its Port During the 
Edo Period. 

Chapter 4 

Major Buildings in Modern Tokyo Superimposed on 

the Original Canal System of Ginza, c. 1900 (Scale: from 
Higashi Ginza Station in the south to Shin-Sukibashi in the 
north = approximately 1 km). 

Photograph of the Lake Biwa Canal at Otsu on Lake Biwa, 

Chapter 6 

Extent of Japanese Railway Network by 1 January 1890. 

Central Japan Railway Network of Shinkansen and Other 
Lines, June 2019. 

Proposed Route for the Chuo Shinkansen between 
Shinagawa, Tokyo, and Nagoya (Approximate Locations of 
the New Stations are Indicated) and the Current Yamanashi 
Test Track. 






286 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Chapter 8 
7 Map of the Tokyo Capital Region Policy Areas. 230 
Mechanism of the Land Re-adjustment Program in Japan. 233 
Chapter 9 

9 Japanese Concept of Agile Governance. 270 

List of Tables 

Chapter | 

Time Periods—Analysis of Institutions and Organisations. 

Chapter 2 

Institutional Shifts in the Administration of Itami, Settsu 
Province, from the Mid-14th century to the Mid-19th 

Dominant Japanese Institutions from Ancient Times to 

Major Factors Explaining Institutional Change in Japan. 

Selected Key Players in National Institutional Change in 
Japan from Archaic Times to the Present Day. 

Chapter 3 

Dominant Players Controlling International Trade, Japan, 
from 600-1868. 

Early Osaka Ports in History—Institutional and 
Organisational Analysis. 






288 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Chapter 4 
8 Canal Plans to Link the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean 116 
via Lake Biwa, Mid 12th to the Mid-20th century. 
9 Japanese Canal Construction During the Early Modern and 117 

Modern Periods—Key Agents. 

Chapter 5 
10 Strategic Importance of the Tokugawa Shogunate Gokaid6 130 
System of Roads. 
11 Summary of Road Policies and Regulations, 1601-1661. 133 
12 Summary of Road Policies and Regulations, 1687-1720. 134 
13 Summary of Road Policies and Regulations, 1800-1868. 136 
14 Indicative Costs (in mon*) of Transport From 1606 to 1868— 140 
The Oikawa Post Station. 
15 Road Network Length in Kilometres by Classification and 144 

by Year, Japan 1925-1939. 

Chapter 6 
16 Urban Tramways in the Study Area in the Modern Period. 165 
17 Hankyt Hanshin Holdings Breakdown of Revenue 170 
Streams, 2019. 
18 Subway Lines and Network Length in the Study Area, 2020. 171 
19 Summary of Major Events in Japanese Railway 177 

Development—Institutions and Organisations. 










List of Tables 

Chapter 7 

Ownership of Japanese Domestic and International 

Classification of Japanese Airports, as of 1999.* 

Policy Objectives Japanese 5-Year Airport Development 

Major Developments of Terminals and Parking, Haneda 
and Narita Airports by Japanese Airport Terminals (JAT). 

Kansai Airports and Group Companies and the Business 
Scope of Terminal Services. 

Summary of Institutions and Organisations—Japanese 
Aviation and Airports. 

Chapter 8 

Land Readjustment and the Timeline for the Recent 
Redevelopment of Shibuya Station, 2007-2013. 

Selected Tokyo Railways Developed Post-2000 by 
Governments, Private Companies and Public-Private 

Nagoya Station—Associated Buildings and Services, 2020. 

Chapter 9 

Characteristics of Societies 3.0 and 4.0—Road Transport and 












ageing society 54, 178, 243-245, 247, 
271. See also Society 5.0: ageing 

agricultural practices 18-19, 99, 102, 243 

airfields 184, 186, 188, 198, 204-205, 

209-210, 216-218, 263 

Haneda Airfield 186-187, 198-199 

Hanshin Airfield 209 

Kizugawa Airfield 183, 203-204 

Komaki Airfield 210 

Nagoya Airfield 210-211 

Osaka No. 1 Airfield 204 

Osaka No. 2 Airfield 203, 205 

airline companies 10, 184, 186, 189, 
192-193, 216. See also international 
air carriers 

Air Do 191-192 

All Nippon Airways (ANA) 175, 
189-193, 216-217 

All Nippon Airways Wings 191 

Amakusa Airlines 191 

bilateral agreements 184, 188,215, 264 

Fuji Dream Airlines 191, 193 

Greater Japan Airways (GJA) 187- 
188, 217 

Hokkaido Air System 191 

Ibex Airlines 191, 193 

Japan Airlines JAL) 184, 187, 189- 
193, 216-217, 263 

Japan Air System (JAS) 189-191 

Japan Air Transport Corporation 
(JAT) 183-184, 186-187, 199, 212, 
216-218, 263 

Japan Transocean Air 191 
New Central Airlines 191, 193 
New Japan Aviation 191 
Oriental Airbridge 191 
Ryukyu Air Commuter 191 
Solaseed Air 191, 193 
air passengers 10 
early passenger flights 183-184, 
post-Second World War growth rates 
10, 189 
airport ground transport access 207,214 
Chubu 214 
Osaka 214 
Tokyo 214 
Chitose Airport 175 
Chibu Centrair International Airport 
195, 210-212, 214, 217 
Haneda Airport xv, 175, 186, 199-200, 
212, 215, 218 
Ibaraki Airport 198 
Kansai International Airport 4, 10, 
171, 194-197, 203, 206-210, 213-215, 
217, 264 
Kobe Airport 194-195, 198, 203, 
208-209, 215, 217 
Nagoya Airport 210, 212, 217 
Narita International Airport 193, 
196-198, 200-202, 206, 212-213, 
215, 217 


Osaka International (Itami) Airport 
88, 93, 191, 195-196, 203-209, 214 
215, 217, 258 

Yao Airport 203, 209-210 

airport terminals 

Haneda 199-200, 212-213, 215, 218 

Kansai 194, 207, 214 

Narita 186, 202, 213 

alternate year attendance system 139 

ancestral worship 47 

Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce 
and Navigation 50 

Anti-Monopoly Law 52 

aviation policy 189, 264, 278 

Act for the Operation of Government 
Controlled Airports by Private Sector 
Entities 197 

airline deregulation 190-191, 216 

airport classification 195, 218 

airport financing 10, 218 

airport privatisation 194-195, 198, 
202, 214 

airport terminal financing 184, 189, 
197, 199, 207, 212, 214, 217-218, 

airport terminals 184, 197, 199, 207, 
212, 217-218, 263-264 

air traffic control 189, 206, 218, 278 

Civil Aeronautics Law 191, 264 

Council for Transport Policy Report 

low-cost carriers 192, 194, 202, 217 

military aircraft 10, 185 

private finance initiatives (PFI) 184, 
196, 207, 213. See also private finance 
initiatives (PFI) 

regional airlines, ownership of 

bakufu 25-29, 32, 34-47, 57,59-60, 77-78, 
81-82, 92, 101, 105, 108, 116, 121-122, 
127-135, 138-140, 150-151, 258-260, 

Kamakura. See Kamakura bakufu 
Muromachi. See Muromachi bakufu 

A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Tokugawa. See Tokugawa bakuhan 
battles 23, 28, 31, 33-34, 58, 78, 80, 126 
Hakusukinoe 23 
Ichi no Tani 78 
Iwai Rebellion 72 
Mongol invasion 27 
Sekigahara 28, 33-34, 58 
Seta Bridge 126 
bicycles 4, 145, 149-150, 236, 268 
black ships 44,93 
bubble economy 54 
bugyd 26, 35,37, 80-81, 92, 133-134 
buke 25, 31,58, 90 
bureaucratic style 55 
bushi 25-27 

canal evacuation 115 
canals and integrated development 
electricity generation 117 
Keage Power Station 112 
water for irrigation 112, 115, 117. See 
also irrigation systems 
canal transport 9, 82, 99, 101, 108-109, 
111, 115, 117 
Asaka Canal 110, 115 
Great Lake Biwa Canal 113 
Kanda Canal 107 
Kyoto 100, 105, 109-110, 112, 115, 117 
Lake Biwa 9, 13, 19, 71, 100, 102-103, 
108-118, 122, 157-158, 164, 259. See 
also Lake Biwa survey 
Lake Biwa Canal 100, 109-113, 115, 
117-118, 164, 259 
Osaka 100, 103, 106, 109, 112-113, 
Shiotsu towards Tsuruga 103, 116 
Takase River Canal 105, 117 
Tatsumi Canal 105 
Tokyo 107-108 
capital cities 15, 21, 23-24, 41 
Heijo-kyo 21, 76,79, 124, 248 
Nara 76-78, 90, 123-124, 248 
Takatsu no Miya 21 
choki 99,107 
Chosht Five 45 


civic society 11,55, 272 

civil society 2,115, 173, 231, 256 

coastal shipping routes 81, 258 

coinage 42, 140 

Committee for Naval Aeronautic 
Research 183, 185, 216 

container shipping 8, 86, 257 

Customs Department 85 

Customs Law 84 

Customs Tariff Law 84 

daimyo 9,16, 28-29, 32,3445, 47, 60-61, 
75, 78, 80, 90-91, 93, 103-107, 109, 
121, 127-128, 130, 132-133, 139, 150, 
156, 158, 257, 259-260, 268 

Daoism 18, 20, 57 

diplomatic missions 72, 76, 260 

disaster prevention programs 114,267, 
271, 276-277 

environmental conservation 7, 104, 
114-115, 149, 151, 229, 235, 243-244, 
266, 270 

flood control 9, 75, 81, 84, 99, 103, 
114-115, 259 

levees and sluice gates 79, 114, 258 

Dojima Rice Exchange 41-42, 59-60, 82 

dugout canoes 71,99, 102 

economic development 
role of governments in 7 

Edo Castle 36, 106, 130, 259 

Ed6 period 28, 33, 39-40, 42, 47, 50,59, 
70, 75, 80-81, 90-93, 102, 104-109, 
117-118, 121, 129, 131-132, 136, 
138-139, 141-142, 150, 156, 223, 
243, 258, 260 

Ed6 port administration 117 

Emishi (Ainu) 17, 23, 57,123,126 

evolutionary paths 11,57 

expressway construction 145-147, 151, 
248, 261 

Far Eastern Commission 51 
female sea-deities 72 

guilds 30-31, 35, 40, 59-60, 74, 81, 127 


highways. See also premodern highways 
highway administration: modern 
era 143 
Department of Public Works 143 
First Five-Year Highway 
Construction Plan 144 
Law on Road Classification 143, 260 
vehicle registrations 145, 149 
highway administration post-1945 145 
Committee for Promoting 
Privatization 148 
creation of Ministry of Land, 
Infrastructure, Transport and 
Tourism 148 
expressways in Kinki/Kinai region 
145, 147 
Hanshin Expressway Public 
Corporation Law 147 
Japan Highway Public 
Corporation 146-148, 151, 261 
Land Acquisition Law 146 
Law Concerning Special Measures for 
Highway Construction 145-146, 
Law for Temporary Measures 
Concerning the Source of Funds 
for the Improvement of Roads 145 
Metropolitan Expressway Public 
Corporation Law 147 
National Development Arterial 
Expressway Construction Law 147 
National Expressway Law 147 
national motorways 146-147 
petrol tax 145 
Privatization Bill 148, 151, 261 
Road Law 145 
Watkins Report 122, 145, 147, 
151, 261 
Home Ministry 49, 143, 151, 260 

industry research 17, 163, 172, 174, 178, 
189, 262, 273 

insei system 25 

institution, definition of 15, 26 

294 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

integration of land use and transport 
10, 223, 230, 233, 240, 247, 249 

international air carriers 10, 171, 188, 
190, 192, 205 

International Container Terminal 
Corporation Act 86 

irrigation systems 9,19, 24,99, 102, 104, 
112, 115, 117, 259 

Itami governance 37-39, 61 

Jardine, Matheson & Company 45 

jitd 26, 28, 79,127 

Jomon 8, 15, 17-18, 57, 71, 101-102, 
122, 265 

jori system of land division 102 

kabane system 22 
Kamakura bakufu 25,27. See also military 
government: Kamakura 
Council of State 26 
Formulatory of Adjudications 26 
Kemmu Restoration 27 
Three Regulations for Great Crimes 
kanpaku 25,90 
Kanto method of flood management 104 
knowledge transfer 2, 11 
American railway technology 160 
bokumin texts 36, 49 
British railway technology 1,177, 263 
Chin dynasty highways 124 
Chinese culture 21, 258 
Chinese Zhenguan Zhengyao 21 
Collected Statutes of the Great Qing 
Dynasty 37 
Confucianism 23, 26, 36, 40-41, 43, 
57, 268. See also Neo-Confucianism 
European legal theory 48 
geomancy 106, 223 
German Autobahns 144-145, 261 
Iwakura Mission to U.S.A. and Europe 
legal-bureaucratic state 23 
military aircraft (French, British, 
German, and American) 185, 264 

ritsuryo codes 23, 48, 57,76, 124 
Shi Bo Si (Oceangoing and Marketing 
Department) 73 
Taiho Code 24, 57-58, 124 
T’ang-style taxes 24 
US. Highway Capacity Manual 146,261 
Zen Buddhism 38-39, 74 
Kofun period 20, 71-72, 123, 260 
koku 34, 41, 75, 81-82 
Korean Bronze Age culture 19 
Korean War 53, 188, 205 
special procurements 54 
kuge 25 

Lake Biwa survey 109, 116. See also canal 
transport: Lake Biwa 

land administration 24 

land readjustment program. 
See national land-use planning: land 
readjustment program 

land reclamation 8, 69-71, 81, 88-89, 
92, 106, 117, 243 

land use and transport integration vii, 
10, 223, 238, 240, 264 

land-use planning system. See national 
land-use planning 

land-value capture 10, 224, 237 

magnetic levitation railways 1, 156, 
172, 174, 178 
Marine Transportation Bureau 85 
maritime ports 72 
Dazaifu 5, 72, 124 
Dejima 44, 80 
Hakodate 46 
Hanshin 4, 9, 70, 86-88, 93-94, 168 
Hyogo 8, 74-75, 78, 83 
Ishiyama Honganji 8, 70, 75, 79-80, 
91-92, 257 
Kobe 9, 70, 78, 83-88, 93 
Nagasaki 36, 40, 44-46, 80 
Nagoya 86 
Naniwa 8, 21, 69-71, 73, 75-77, 81, 
89, 91, 123, 257 
Niigata 46 


opening-up of ports to foreign trade 
Osaka 69-71, 75, 86, 89 
Sakai 8, 29, 70, 75, 77-79, 86, 91-92, 
123, 257 
Shimoda 71, 82 
Suminoe 73, 77, 89, 91,257 
Sumiyoshi 73 
Takamatsu 82-83 
Uraga Harbour 44, 58 
Watanabe 8, 70, 75,79, 89,91, 257-258 
Yokohama 44-46, 70, 85-86 
maritime regulations 74 
Marxian history 16 
Meiji government 39, 48, 50, 61, 83-84, 
94, 136, 155, 157, 177, 225-226, 248 
constitution 48-49, 113 
Diet 49 
importing Western technology 50 
legislative assembly 48 
policy of industrial promotion 83 
prefectures 48-49, 243, 256 
public works 50, 122, 143, 151, 258 
regional integration 49 
Sinified legal system 48 
state-owned enterprises 50 
Meiji Restoration xiv, 8, 10, 28, 42-43, 
45-48, 59-60, 93, 122, 224-225, 248, 
257, 260 
Charter Oath 47-48 
kokutai 48 
seitaisho 48 
Memorandum on the Japan Customs 
System 85 
merchants 9, 16, 29, 31, 35, 37, 39-43, 
46, 48, 50, 59-61, 70, 75-78, 81-82, 
90-93, 100, 103, 105-108, 116-118, 
121, 125, 137, 257-259 
caravans 125, 141 
family constitution 40 
financial influence 41 
itinerant peddlers 125 
moneylenders 27, 82 
Osaka 10-wholesale group 82 


Osaka 24-wholesale group 82 
rice trade 41 
teamsters 124 
migration routes 15, 17,57, 89, 255 
military aircraft. See aviation policy: 
military aircraft 
military government 8, 16, 22, 90, 
Kamakura 16, 22, 25-27, 56-58, 90, 
127. See also Kamakura bakufu 
Muromachi 16, 22, 27-30, 37, 
56-58, 60, 77, 90, 92, 127, 141. See 
also Muromachi bakufu 
Tokugawa 16, 33, 57, 256-257. See 
also Tokugawa bakuhan 
Minatogawa Man 17 
Ministry of Communications 186, 198, 
204, 216-217 
Ministry of Finance 84-86, 145, 261 
Ministry of Home Affairs 85 
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, 
Transport and Tourism xv, 4, 87, 
114-115, 122, 137, 143, 148-151, 
168-169, 175, 178, 188-189, 193-195, 
198, 200, 202, 209, 217, 231-232, 
245-246, 249, 261, 267, 278-279. See 
also national land-use planning 
Ministry of Transport 10, 86-87, 149, 
151, 163, 166, 172, 190, 196-197, 200, 
206, 208, 216-217, 257 
Mito School of Thought 43 
modern government 56, 59 
American aid budget 53 
Japanese Constitution (1946) 16, 
52-53, 56, 59 
multi-function polis (MFP) 224 
Muromachi bakufu 29, 32, 77-78, 127. 
See also military government: 
dual peasant system 30 
hanzei tax 28 
kokujin lordship 28, 30 
nihonkokuo shi. See nihonkokuo shi 
status of merchants 29 
tansen tax 28 


tributary trade 29 
myoshu 30 

National General Mobilization Act 51 
National Government Rice Agency 42, 
national land-use planning 223, 224, 
228-231, 256. See also new towns; See 
also Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, 
Transport and Tourism; See 
also transit-oriented development 
land readjustment program 10, 
231-232, 264 
Nagoya Station 214, 238, 249 
smart cities 11,224, 242-244 246, 266 
mobility in smart cities 246-247, 
Tama Garden City 239-240, 242, 249 
Tama New Town 239-241 
Neo-Confucianism 26, 40, 41. 
See also knowledge transfer: 
new institutional economics (NIE) 6, 
59, 90, 279 
new towns 11, 107, 162, 224, 239-242, 
246, 249, 264. See also national land- 
use planning 
nihonkokuo shi 32 

Osaka Stock Exchange 61 

Pacific Ocean 9, 100-101, 103, 116 
Pacific War. See war: Pacific War 
path dependency 59 
pilgrimages 79, 123, 136, 141-142, 260 
accommodation 142 
entertainment 142 
Ise Shrine 101, 113, 117, 141-143, 
piracy 31-33, 58, 77-78, 80, 90-91, 
anti-piracy regulation 33, 58 
eradication 32-33, 80 
smuggling 32-33, 37 
sword-hunt edict 33,58 
planning Tokyo 225, 227 

A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Building Standards Act 227, 248 
Bureau for Reconstruction of the 
Imperial Capital 226, 248 
Capital Construction Law 227,248 
City Planning Act 226, 229, 248 
Decentralization Law 229 
Ginza Brick Quarters Project 226, 248 
National Capital Region Development 
Act 227,248 
Tokyo Special City Plan 227, 248 
Tokyo Town Planning Ordinance 226, 
political parties 1,51 
Port and Harbor Act (1950) 85,93, 257 
Port Customhouse 84 
Port Development Authority 86, 258 
port management bodies 85-87, 257 
Port Management Corporation 87 
post stations 9, 121-122, 124-125, 
129-130, 132-139, 150, 260-261 
abolition 136 
assisting horses 132-133, 135 
courier services 132 
honjin inns 137 
locations 124 
Naniwa Ko 138 
prostitution 138-139, 142, 150 
provision of horses 124, 129, 132-133, 
135, 138, 150 
services 124, 132, 150 
taxation 137-138 
premodern highways 
bansho 127, 133-134 
circuits 123-124 
Edo escape route 130 
gokaido 122-123, 129-130, 132-134, 
Koshu docht 130 
load limits 132-133, 135 
Magistrate of Road Affairs 133-136, 
138, 150 
maintenance 132-135, 137, 151 
man-powered carts 136 
maps 131, 136 


Naniwa Great Road 123 
Nikko docht 130 
Otsu 123 
road widths 129 
Take no uchi Kaido 123-124 
Tokaido 104, 109, 124-125, 128-130, 
132-133, 135-136, 138 
Tokaido survey 132 
Tokugawa policy 7,9, 132-139 
Tosand6o (Nakasendd) 109, 122, 
124-125, 130, 132-133, 135-136, 138 
weigh stations 135 
Preservation Districts for Groups of 
Traditional Buildings 137 
private finance initiatives (PFI) 7, 184, 
196, 207, 213, 264 
private sector 4, 7,88, 155-156, 162, 164, 
171, 177, 184, 189, 196-197, 203, 207, 
212, 216-218, 227, 236, 239, 244, 262, 
264, 272, 275, 277 
airlines 184, 186, 189, 216-218 
buses 4, 170, 247 
light rail 237, 262 
railways 4, 155, 158-161, 166, 169-172, 
174, 177-178, 214, 241, 262-263 
subways 156, 165, 171, 178, 262 
public sector 87, 247, 262, 277 
airlines 183-184, 186-187, 189, 199, 
212, 216, 218, 263 
buses 4, 238, 272 
light rail 237, 245 
railways 10, 157, 159, 162, 166, 
171-172, 177, 238, 262 
subways 156, 171, 238 

Queen Himiko 20,58, 73 

railways 4, 9-10, 49-50, 83, 144, 149, 
155-164, 166-167, 169, 171-173, 
177-178, 218, 223-224, 227, 229,231, 
241, 248-249, 256, 262-263 

British technology 155, 157, 263 
Central Japan Railway Network 168 
Den-en Toshi Company 162 
foreign expertise 10, 263 

freight 164-166, 168-169, 174 


governance models: public and 
private 166-167, 169-171 
government railways 10, 159, 162, 
166, 262 
Japanese National Railways 155, 
166-167, 169, 172-175, 178, 262 
narrow gauge tracks 177 
private operator innovations 156, 
159, 161-163 
private railway companies 4, 155, 
160-163, 167, 177-178, 215, 241, 
privatisation 155-156, 166, 169, 175, 
177, 262 
Railway Nationalization Act 155, 162, 
Railway Technical Research Institute 
163, 178 
Tramway Law of 1921 164 
urban subways 156, 165, 171, 177-178, 
228-230, 262 
urban tramways 156, 164-165, 177, 245 
River Act (1896) 100, 113-114 
River Act (1964) 100, 114 
River Cooperative Organization System 
rivers. See topography and rivers 
road barriers 9, 121-122, 125-129, 131, 
150, 260 
auxiliary villages 135 
guards 128, 260 
locations 126, 131 
passenger inspections 125, 128 
strategic military value 126 
toll barriers 125, 139 
travel permits 128-129, 134, 139, 141, 
150, 260, 267 
weapons 127 
ronin 27 

samurai 25-27, 30,40, 42, 46, 48, 60, 75, 
82, 89, 99, 107, 130, 139-140 

Sea of Japan 5,9, 17,78, 100, 103, 105, 
108-109, 113, 116-117, 169, 245, 259 

298 A Short History of Transport in Japan from Ancient Times to the Present 

Seto Inland Sea _ 5, 8, 69, 71, 77-79, 91, 
113, 160 
Shinkansen 10, 156, 166-168, 171-176, 
178, 215, 230, 238, 245, 262 
early development 172-173, 177 
operations, 1964 Summer Olympic 
Games 156, 172, 174, 178, 205, 262 
Shinkansen Railway Holding 
Organization 174 
Tokaido Shinkansen 172, 174, 262 
shinokosho 46 
Shintdism 20, 22, 31, 43, 57, 72, 142 
shipbuilders, government subsidies 
to 83 
shipping coastal routes. See coastal 
shipping routes 
shoen 24, 26, 28, 30, 74, 77, 79, 89, 103, 
125-127, 257, 260 
Shogun 25-27, 29, 32-35, 37, 41-42, 44, 
46-47, 56-58, 60-61, 77, 80-81, 90, 
92-93, 106, 117, 122, 129-134, 136, 
157, 243, 256, 260 
Enemy of the Court 47 
vassals 26, 28, 30-31, 34-36, 106, 129 
Showa Nankai earthquake 84 
shugo 26, 28-30, 103 
shuin sen 32 
Society 5.0 11,249, 255, 265-267, 269-272 
ageing population 54, 178, 245, 247, 
271, 275. See also ageing society 
agile governance 269-271 
autonomous driving vehicles 267, 
271-273, 275 
aviation safety and security 278-279 
Blue Ocean Strategy 279 
challenges facing Japan 255, 267, 
269-271, 274-276, 278-279 
characteristics 266 
natural disasters and resilience 
personal mobility 267-268, 272-273, 
rural shrinkage 193, 275-276 
Science and Technology Basic Law 
249, 265-266 

Smart City Public-Private Partnership 
Platform 266 
vision 255, 265-266, 271 
socio-technical transition 7 
sonno joi 43, 46 
Summer Olympic Games 
Melbourne 3 
Sydney 3 
Tokyo 57,59, 172, 262, 272 
Supreme Allied Commander of the 
Pacific 52 

Taira Reforms 9 
Temporary Funds Adjustments Law 51 
tiers of government 4, 200 
Tokugawa bakuhan 28, 34, 36, 38-39, 
43,57,81, 92, 101, 105, 108, 116, 122, 
127-129, 139, 258. See also military 
government: Tokugawa 
commerce regulatory framework 42, 
confiscation of daimyo lands 34, 47 
corruption 43 
fiscal-military state 34 
foreign trade 36-37, 40, 45, 128 
fudai daimyo 34-35, 129-130 
governance 29, 34-35, 39, 61 
integration of river administration 
measures 104 
monopolistic guilds 31, 40, 60 
Office of Shogun 35 
paper money 42, 140 
provincial governments 34, 36, 137, 
road administration 121, 129, 135, 150 
sakoku edicts 37 
security 9, 35, 82, 122, 260 
taxation rice 41, 89, 93, 137, 141 
Tempo Reform 43, 60 
fozama daimyo 35 
village water 
associations 104 
Tokyo Stock Exchange 61 
ton’ya 40,43, 60, 81-82 



topography and rivers 9, 18-19, 21, 42, 
70, 72-73, 76-77, 79-82, 84, 89, 92, 
99-107, 109, 112-118, 121, 124-125, 
129-131, 135, 141, 143, 158, 203-204, 
225, 259, 277 

transit-oriented development xii, 4, 
10-11, 224, 234-239, 241, 249, 264. 
See also national land-use planning 

transport fees 139 

Treaty of Peace and Amity 44 

uji 3, 20, 22, 57,73, 92-93 
chiefs 20, 22, 57, 92-93 
clans 92-93 

Wa 19-20, 72, 75, 89, 91 

war. See also Korean War 
First World War 51, 83, 163 
Gempei War 78 
Imjin Wars 33 
Onin no Ran 30, 60,77, 92 


Pacific War 16, 51, 88, 113-114, 145, 
151, 164, 185, 188, 198, 210, 216, 224, 

Russo-Japanese War 50, 155, 162 

Second World War 8-10, 57, 59, 69, 
85, 93, 122, 171, 178, 183, 198, 209, 
224, 257 

Sino-Japanese War 50, 155, 162, 187 

Southern Court and Northern Court 

Woven City 243, 246, 249, 272 

Yamatai 19-20, 58, 73, 89 

Yamato Kingdom 15, 19-21, 56-57, 
72-73, 76, 122, 125-126, 150, 260 

Yayoi 8, 15, 17-19, 57, 71, 89, 102, 122, 
259, 265 

za 30-31, 60, 74, 127 
zaibatsu 50,52, 61, 187 

About the Cover 

“Transformation—From Steam Engines to Super-Conducting 
Maglev Railway Technology” 

The composition of this oil painting by Jack Black (1948-) alluding to the maglev 
test track at Yamanashi, Japan, is based on the artwork of J. M. W. Turner, 1844, 
“Rain, Steam and Speed—The Great Western Railway at Maidenhead”, and the 
sky is based on the artwork “The Fighting Temeraire, Tugged to Her Last Berth 
to be Brocken Up, 1838”. Both original paintings are exhibited in the National 
Art Gallery, London. 

The book cover is a composite painting in oil based on these two paintings. As a 
romantic artist, the topics tackled in these paintings are nostalgia for the past— 
as river boats were being replaced by steam engines—and the demise of the 
98-gun sailing warship that once fought heroically at the Battle Trafalgar, and 
was now being towed by a steam-driven boat on the River Thames to be broken 
up as scrap. 

The reproduction of this painting is allowed by permission from its owner, 
Yoshitsugu Hayashi, Senior Research Professor, Chtbu University, Nagoya, 
Japan, and was photographed by Mr Kiyoaki Suzuki. 

The cover was designed by Anna Gatti. 

About the Team 

Alessandra Tosi was the managing editor for this book. 

Sam Noble and Lucy Barnes performed the copy-editing and 

Melissa Purkiss typeset the book in InDesign and compiled the index. 

Anna Gatti designed the cover. The cover was produced in InDesign 
using the Fontin font. 

Luca Baffa produced the paperback and hardback editions. The text font 
is Tex Gyre Pagella; the heading font is Californian FB. Luca produced 
the EPUB, AZW3, PDF, HTML, and XML editions—the conversion is 
performed with open source software freely available on our GitHub 
page (https: // 

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This is a unique study: the first by a Western scholar to place the long-term 
development of Japanese infrastructure alongside an analysis of its evolving political 
economy. Drawing from New Institutional Economics, Black offers an historically 
informed critique of contemporary planning using the example of Japan’s historical 
institutions, their particular biases, and the power they have exerted over national 
and local transport, to identify how reformed institutional arrangements might 
develop more sustainable and equitable transport services. 

With chapters addressing each major form of transport, Black examines the 
predominant role of institutions and individuals-from seventeenth-century 
shoguns to post-war planners—in transforming Japan’s maritime infrastructure, 
its roads and waterways, and its adoption of rail and air transport. Using a 
multidisciplinary, comparative, and chronological approach, the book consults a 
range of technical, cultural, and political sources to tease out these interactions 
between society and technology. 

This spirited new contribution to transport studies will attract readers interested 
in institutional power, the history of transport, and the development of future 
infrastructure, as well as those with a general interest in Japan. 

This is the author-approved edition of this Open Access title. As with all Open 
Book publications, this entire book is available to read for free on the publisher’s 
website. Printed and digital editions, together with supplementary digital material, 
can also be found at 

Cover image: ‘Transformation - From Steam Engines to Super-Conducting Maglev Railway Technology’. 
Oil painting by Jack Black based on the artwork of J. M. W. Turner. Cover design by Anna Gatti. 

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