Shizuoka, JR Tokai remain apart on maglev talk

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A magnetic levitation train conducts a test run in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture.

SHIZUOKA (Jiji Press) — The heads of the Shizuoka prefectural government and Central Japan Railway Co., or JR Tokai, failed to narrow gaps in their first talks in two years on the Chuo Shinkansen magnetic levitation line on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting with JR Tokai President Shin Kaneko, Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu indicated that the prefecture will continue to engage in talks, including on ways to prevent the maglev project having a negative impact on local water resources.

The prefectural government has refused to approve the start of construction in Shizuoka, due to concerns that drilling work could cause a fall in the amount of water in the Oi River.

The refusal is making it difficult for the Chuo Shinkansen line to be opened between Shinagawa Station in Tokyo and Nagoya Station in Aichi Prefecture, west of Shizuoka, in 2027, as sought by the railway operator.

Tuesday’s talks were held behind closed doors, and both Kawakatsu and Kaneko spoke to reporters after their meeting.

Kaneko sought the prefecture’s approval for starting construction, saying that the company will make serious efforts to resolve the water issue and to protect the natural environment of the Southern Japanese Alps region.

“If we can’t start work in Shizuoka, it is difficult to draw up construction plans,” he said.

Kawakatsu said that the maglev project is “in a critical situation as the novel coronavirus has changed patterns of people’s behavior.”

The governor reiterated his call for initially opening the maglev line between Kanagawa Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture, east and north of Shizuoka, respectively.

Kaneko rejected this proposal, saying that the maglev line will be meaningful as a bypass for the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line. He asked for the governor’s cooperation to open the Chuo Shinkansen line as planned.