Country Listing

Japan Table of Contents



Road passenger and freight transport expanded considerably during the 1980s as private ownership of motor vehicles greatly increased along with the quality and extent of the nation's roads. Passenger transport by automobiles and buses in 1990 totaled 853.06 billion passenger-kilometers, up 9.3 percent over the previous year. The Japan Railways Group companies operates long-distance bus service on the nation's expanding expressway network. In addition to relatively low fares and deluxe seating, the buses are well utilized because they continue service during the night when air and train service is limited. The cargo sector also grew rapidly in the 1980s, recording 274.2 billion ton-kilometers in 1990. The freight handled by motor vehicles, mainly trucks, in 1990, was over 6 billion tons, accounting for 90 percent of domestic freight tonnage and about 50 percent of ton-kilometers.

The total length of roads in Japan reached about 1.1 million kilometers in 1990 (see fig. 6). About 69 percent of the roads were paved, compared with only about 40 percent in 1978. Efforts to upgrade roads, however, have not kept up with increases in automobile ownership. In the late 1980s, many roads had reached a saturation point, and traffic jams were especially serious in large urban areas. There was a vigorous government plan to improve the situation by constructing an additional 14,000 kilometers of highways in the 1990s. The 1988 opening of the Seto-Ohashi section of the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge project provided a long-awaited direct link between Honshu and relatively undeveloped Shikoku.

Data as of January 1994