Expressway tolls set to stay until 2115

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A section of the Metropolitan Expressway in Tokyo is seen on Sept. 27, 2022.

Expressway tolls are set to remain in place nationwide until 2115, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry plans to revise related laws to extend the existing expressway toll deadline of 2065 by up to 50 years.

In 2005, the government said expressways would be toll-free at some point after the privatization of the now-defunct Japan Highway Public Corporation.

However, a future with a toll-free network is now likely to be even further away, as the government aims to secure funds for the maintenance and redevelopment of the nation’s aging expressways.

The ministry will submit a bill to revise related laws in the upcoming Diet session, which kicks off on Jan. 23.

Under existing legislation, revenue from expressway tolls funds the repayment of road construction debt, which totals about ¥40 trillion. The legislation states that expressways will be toll-free after the repayment of the debt.

However, more than half of the nation’s expressway network is at least 30 years old and an increasing number of road sections need reinforcements or repairs. Also, new investments are needed to reduce traffic jams and improve road safety.