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Japan's Private Highway Makes a Profit without Government Help

Written By: USJ Staff  |  Posted: Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

                 The Tokyo Expressway, owned and operated by Tokyo Kosoku Doro Co., is Tokyo's first and only privately owned highway.  The highway stretches from Ueno to the north and Haneda Airport to the south and is funded by 100,000 square meters of rental properties beneath the roadway.  Over 40,000 vehicles pass through the Expressway every day.  The annual maintenance costs run approximately 1.7 billion yen but the rent from the 400 businesses, some of them major corporations, generates around 3 billion yen a year.  The Expressway has been in operation since 1966 and business continues to grow.  The vacancy rate of the rentals is less than 2% and recently 183 applicants have requested space and have been put on waiting lists.  "We don't charge the highest rent we can get," Masaki Negishi, chairman of Tokyo Kosoku Doro Co. says. "We are looking for quality and stability. We don't want our tenants to be changing all the time."

                Negishi boasts that the Expressway is built better than the government-owned freeways as well.  "At the time we did our work, people were honest and always used the best steel and concrete," said Negishi, hinting at the government corruption in road construction.  The Expressway was reinforced in 1995 to meet new safety standards after the Great Hanshin Earthquake collapsed bridges in the port city of Kobe.  Negishi is confident that the Expressway will withstand an earthquake.  The company is also very particular and prompt when it comes to road maintenance.  "If there's a hole or crack," Negishi says, "we have to respond to that right away. The people below have a business to run.

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