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Japanese hub ports upgrade

Tokyo: The government has designated two mega-ports as "International Freight Strategic Ports," which are to receive high-priority in budget allocations in an attempt to transform them into powerful international shipping hubs.
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara announced that "Hanshin Port" (consisting of Osaka and Kobe Ports) and "Keihin Port" (Tokyo, Kawasaki and Yokohama Ports) have been chosen as the strategic ports.
The designation is part of the financially-squeezed ministry's efforts to shift from a strategy of investing in ports equally to focusing resources on a few particular ports.
Four ports -- Hanshin, Keihin, Ise Bay (Nagoya and Yokkaichi Ports) and Hokubu-Kyushu (Hakata and Kitakyushu Ports) -- had applied for the new project, and the ministry's review committee scored each port's suggestions for how it would develop using the money on a 1,000-point scale. Hanshin and Keihin were the top two, scoring 769 and 729 points, respectively, while Ise Bay and Hokubu Kyushu settled for 553 and 277, respectively. Based on the scores, the ministry opted for Hanshin and Keihin.
"We will restore Japan's status as a seafaring nation," Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Maehara said at a press conference, showing a strong desire to make the two ports major Asian hubs.
In 2004, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry designated Tokyo, Kobe and four other ports as "Super Central Ports," in a bid to end the balanced strategy and instead prioritize budget allocations on those ports, but the plan failed to close the gap in freight volume with the leading Asian countries. The latest move comes as an attempt by the ministry to focus its port investments into yet a smaller number of ports. [09/08/10]

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