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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 12, The Local Train Line Abolition Crisis.
As Japan faces depopulation, another crisis is emerging; train companies are closing lines.
In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

Along with the breakup and privatization of the National Railways in 1986, many of the routes with deficits across the country became abolished lines.
30 years later, local lines in various parts of Japan are now facing another abolition crisis.
For instance, in areas where depopulation is occurring, it is becoming difficult to run local lines due to damage caused by natural disasters and aging and the cost of restoration.
For example, JR West officially announced the abolition of the entire "JR Sankō Line," which stretches 108 kilometers across the Shimane and Hiroshima prefectures.
This is due to the company’s inability to prevent the decrease of passengers.
JR Hokkaido is experiencing similar difficulties, with three quarters of all the routes facing managerial issues due to a steady decrease in passengers.
Railway costs include not only the vehicles themselves, but also the running costs, such as rails and station buildings.
Now that the situation is getting worse, JR is being pushed to the limit.
As JR is also a company, it is extremely difficult to maintain an unprofitable route.
JR is seeking a reasonable solution for local governments to maintain the route, but as depopulation increases, the financial difficulties of local governments have become more difficult to handle as well.
On the other hand, railroads are a matter of life and death for local governments.
For those who do not have a car, it goes without saying that railroads are an indispensable means of transportation.
If abolished, municipalities will be further depopulated.
Of course, tourists will also find it harder to travel.
How will we maintain railways that are relevant to the local economy and people's livelihoods?
It’s time for JR and municipalities to unite and use their collective knowledge to find a solution.


Those are the key facts about the local train line abolition crisis.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!