May.8.2018 KIP Forum "Significance of the Linear Central Shinkansen and the Role of the Tokaido Shinkansen"
By Mr. Koji Kumekawa, Central Japan Railway Company, Public Relations Department, Tokyo Public Relations Office.

May forum was held. This time, we invited Mr. Koji Kumekawa, Public Relations Department Tokyo, Public Relations Office of Central Japan Railway Company. The title of the lecture was "The Role of Tokaido Shinkansen and Significance of the Linear Central Shinkansen." The lecture had three important viewpoints, which were "the challenge of the linear," "increasing the competitiveness of the Tokaido Shinkansen" and "beginning and mission of Central Japan Railway." Mr.Kumekawa mentioned what kind of changes the Linear Central Shinkansen and Tokaido Shinkansen will bring to Japan in the future.

Mr.Kumekawa: After joining in Central Japan Railway Company, he worked as a management trainee and in the human resource department. Now, he belongs to public relations department as Tokyo public relations department's general manager.

First, Mr. Kumekawa explained the collapse of the National Railway and the beginning of JR Central from the viewpoint of "beginning and mission of Central Japan Railway". Specifically, the National Railways from 1949 to 1987 was strongly influenced by politics, and it was difficult to raise the fare or make investments for the future. It caused lower quality of service and lower motivation of workers. Eventually, the National Railways went bankrupt with 37.1 trillion yen in debt. In 1987, the National Railways was divided into several organizations and the JR Central was established. The market of JR Central is 24% of the total area of Japan, which equals to 60% of the total population, and 65% of the total GDP. Mr. Kumekawa said that it is the biggest mission to connect Tokyo and Osaka strongly and certainly, where are main artery in Japan.

Next, Mr.Kumekawa talked about the perspective of "strengthening the competitiveness of the Tokaido Shinkansen." The Tokaido Shinkansen put much emphasis on six points, including safety, accuracy, comfort, high speed, high frequency, and environmental compatibility. For example, from the viewpoint of safety, they have the prevention system for earthquake disaster to judge whether to stop the Shinkansen, in 2 seconds after sensing the P wave. Also, by pulling the rail inside each of two rails, JR Central is building a mechanism that the vehicle does not derail even if the wheel is detached from the rail.

Lastly, from the aspect of "challenge of linear Shinkansen," Mr. Kumekawa said that what linear Shinkansen will bring about is roughly divided into three areas: duplication of the artery, integration of the three metropolitan areas by shortening traveling time, and expansion of utility of the Tokaido Shinkansen. In addition, as a meaning for challenging one of the innovative technologies that shinkansen can reach 500 km per hour with 10 cm away from the ground, Mr. Kumekawa mentioned this technology is related with unique background of Japan, earthquake. It is extremely safe even when earthquake has occurred because it will ensure safety. Also, Mr. kumekawa said that while Central Shinkansen was created JR Central covering all the expenses of construction.

Based on his speech, we had a group discussion about "the advantage and disadvantage of Linear Central Shinkansen." If business trip between Tokyo and Osaka takes only one hour, there are many advantages. For example, business men can save some time and they don’t have to live alone away from their family. Moreover, most people will be able to travel easily and mobility of people will increase. The disadvantage is that it can have negative influence on the environment such as mining of tunnel, and the number of people staying at accommodation facilities in tourist spots may decrease because it takes less time to trip. Also, the inequality can expand due to the population concentration around urban areas.

Mr. Kumekawa said that forming urban areas with scale of 60 million people by opening linear is unique in the world, and this lecture is valuable opportunities considering how Japan will change in the future. Thank you so much for taking some time for us having the wonderful and meaningful forum.

(Ryosuke Noda)