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A bill to revise the Ports and Harbors Law was passed into law Wednesday to enable the government to invest in the operators of hub container ports in the Tokyo and Osaka areas with the aim of boosting their competitiveness.
Having seen large chunks of Japanese cargo to Europe and North America routed via South Korea's Busan Port, which has been wholly backed by the South Korean government, Japanese businesses have been calling on the government to get involved in running ports in the Tokyo and Osaka bay areas.
The operators of three ports in the Tokyo region -- Tokyo, Yokohama and Kawasaki -- and those of two ports in the Osaka region -- Osaka and Kobe -- plan to integrate their management, and the government will then invest in the new firms.
The government will promote business investment in preparing facilities to handle cargo that will contribute to reducing operational costs and be involved in sales to attract domestic and foreign freight.
Under the revised law, the government can also provide non-interest-bearing loans into projects to introduce warehouses with distributive processing functions near the major ports and to reinforce the quake-resistance of privately owned seawalls.
Details of the government's involvement, including investment ratios, will be discussed later as Yoichi Masuzoe, governor of the Tokyo metropolitan government which supervises the Tokyo port, remains cautious about the state's participation.