|Expressways of Japan|
|Maintained by the Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency, through its subsidiaries (East, Central, West Nippon Expressway Company Limited), the Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited, and others|
|Length||10,021 km (6,227 mi)|
|Expressways||Enn Expressway (E1) |
EnnA Expressway (E1A)
Cn Expressway (C1)
| National highways of Japan |
Expressways of Japan
The expressways (高速道路, kōsoku-dōro, lit. "high-speed road", also jidōsha-dō (自動車道), lit. "automobile road", "freeway", "expressway", or "motorway") of Japan make up a large network of controlled-access toll expressways.
Following World War II, Japan's economic revival led to a massive increase in personal automobile use. However the existing road system was inadequate to deal with the increased demand; in 1956 only 23% of national highways were paved, which included only two thirds of the main Tokyo-Osaka road (National Route 1).
In April 1956 the Japan Highway Public Corporation (JH) was established by the national government with the task of constructing and managing a nationwide network of expressways. In 1957 permission was given to the corporation to commence construction of the Meishin Expressway linking Nagoya and Kobe,the first section of which opened to traffic in 1963.
In addition to the national expressway network administered by JH, the government established additional corporations to construct and manage expressways in urban areas. The Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation (responsible for the Shuto Expressway) was established in 1959, and the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation (responsible for the Hanshin Expressway) was established in 1962. By 2004 the lengths of their networks had extended to 283 kilometres (175.8 mi) and 234 kilometres (145.4 mi) respectively.
In 1966 a plan was formally enacted for a 7,600 kilometres (4,722.4 mi) national expressway network. Under this plan construction of expressways running parallel to the coastlines of Japan would be given priority over those traversing the mountainous interior. In 1987, the plan was revised to extend the network to 14,000 kilometres (8,699.2 mi). In April 2018, completed sections of the network totaled 9,429 kilometres (5,858.9 mi)
In October 2005 JH, the Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation, the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation, and the Honshū-Shikoku Bridge Authority (managing three fixed-link connections between Honshu and Shikoku) were privatized under the reform policies of the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. These privatizations are technically converting the corporations into stock companies with no stock sold to the general public, since the Government of Japan hold controlling shares in the successor companies. The expressway network of JH was divided into three companies based on geography - East Nippon Expressway Company (E-NEXCO), Central Nippon Expressway Company (C-NEXCO), and West Nippon Expressway Company (W-NEXCO). The Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation transferred its authority to the Metropolitan Expressway Company, while the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation transferred its authority to the Hanshin Expressway Company. The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority became the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company, whose operations are planned to eventually be absorbed into those of W-NEXCO.
Japan's expressway development has been financed largely with debt. It was intended to make the expressways free when they are paid off. The Meishin Expressway and Tomei Expressway debt has been fully paid off since 1990. It was decided in 1972 that tolls would be pooled from all expressways to provide a single source of operating funds, since some sections were little used. Earthquake resistant construction methods have added to costs, as well as extensive soundwalling. In March 2009 (then) Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled a plan to reduce tolls to ¥1,000 on weekends and national holidays. Tolls on weekdays would be cut by around 30 percent. According to the National Expressway Construction Association, 4.41 million vehicles use the expressways daily, driving an average of 43.7 kilometres (27.2 mi).
National expressways (高速自動車国道, Kōsoku Jidōsha Kokudō) make up the majority of expressways in Japan. This network boasts an uninterrupted link between Aomori Prefecture at the northern part of Honshu and Kagoshima Prefecture at the southern part of Kyushu, linking Shikoku as well. Additional expressways serve travellers in Hokkaido and on Okinawa Island, although those are not connected to the Honshu-Kyushu-Shikoku grid.
Most expressways are four lanes with a central reservation (median). Some expressways in close proximity to major urban areas are six lanes, while in rural areas are constructed as undivided two-lane expressway. Two-lane expressway sections are built to a standard that allows conversion to four lanes in the future.
Speed limits for passenger cars, motorcycles, and buses defaults to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) with a minimum speed of 50 km/h (31.1 mph), unless otherwise posted. The maximum speed limits for heavy trucks, trailers and three-wheelers are set at 80 km/h (49.7 mph). Vehicles unable to reach 50 km/h, such as tractors and mopeds, are forbidden from using the expressways. The highest posted speed limit is 120 km/h (74.6 mph) in some sections of expressways in Central and Eastern Japan. Variable speed limits are also in effect on most expressways and speeds are temporarily reduced due to adverse driving conditions.
Many rest facilities such as parking areas (usually only with toilets or small shops) and service areas (usually with many more amenities such as restaurants and gas stations) serve travellers along national expressways.
On October 24, 2016, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had introduced a new format of route numbering system for national expressways.Expressway route numbers begin with the prefix E or C (for circular route) followed by their respective numbers. Expressway routes are numbered according to the parallel national highway routes; for example, the E1 Tomei Expressway runs parallel with the National Route 1. However, there are exceptions in this rule, and some expressways that are assigned with the two-digit numbers greater than 59 which are not used for the national highway route numbers. The E64 Tsugaru Expressway is an example of this exception as it parallels National Route 101.
If there are more than one expressway being constructed in parallel with their respective national highways, newer expressways within the same corridor carry the suffix A at the end of their route numbers. For example, the Chūgoku Expressway and San'yō Expressway both run in parallel along the National Route 2 corridor and the San'yō Expressway is assigned the route code of E2 for being constructed first, and the newer Chūgoku Expressway is assigned the route number of E2A.
National expressways are expensive to use, with the 325.5 kilometres (202.3 mi) journey from Tokyo to Nagoya on the Tōmei Expressway costing ¥7,100 (roughly $70 or £50) in tolls for an ordinary car. According to the Japan Times, expressway tolls in Japan are three times as high as in France.
With a few exceptions, tolls on national expressways are based on distance travelled. When entering the expressway, one collects a ticket, which can be inserted along with the fare into a machine or handed to an attendant upon exiting the expressway. There is also an Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) card system installed in many cars which automatically pays at the toll gate. As of 2001 toll fees consist of a 150 yen terminal charge plus a fee which depends on the distance travelled. The rate of this fee depends on the type of vehicle as shown in the following table.
|Type of vehicle||rate in yen/km||rate in yen/mile|
|Light car and motorcycle||19.68||31.49|
|Ordinary passenger car||24.60||39.36|
|Small and medium-sized truck||29.52||47.23|
|Special large-sized full trailer||67.65||108.24|
Tolls are always rounded to the nearest 10 yen and include consumption tax. If there are two or more possible routes from the entrance to the exit, the toll will be calculated based on the shortest (cheapest) route.
Tolls collected from all routes are pooled into a single fund and are used to repay the entire network.It is expected that all national expressways in Japan will be fully repaid 45 years after privatization (2050).
Some future national expressways are planned to be built according to the New Direct Control System, whereby national and local governments will absorb the burden for expressway constructionand operate toll-free upon completion.
Urban expressways (都市高速道路, Toshi Kōsokudōro) are intra-city expressways that are found in many of Japan's largest urban areas. Due to the nature of urban expressways going through dense urban areas combined with weak eminent domain powers in Japan, urban expressways have much lower design speed compared to national expressways and are constructed as viaducts or as underground tunnels along existing arterial roads.
The two largest urban expressway networks are the Shuto Expressway in the Tokyo area and the Hanshin Expressway in the Osaka area. There are other smaller networks in Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kitakyūshū, and Fukuoka. Each network is managed separately from each other (the Fukuoka and Kitakyūshū Expressways are managed by the same company but are not physically connected to each other).
In 2019, there were 163 Fatalities, 527 Serious Injury and 11 702 Sight Injury on Expressways of Japan, which is a performance still better than in 2018.
All roads in Japan that are built to expressway standards (including national and urban expressways themselves) are known as Roads for motor vehicles only (自動車専用道路, Jidōsha Senyō Dōro). If a road for motor vehicles only cannot be classified as a national or urban expressway, it may be classified into one of the following categories.
The Matsuyama Expressway is a national expressway in Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The expressway is numbered E11 between Kawanoe Junction and Matsuyama Interchange and E56 between Matsuyama and Uwajima-Kita Interchanges under the MLIT's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering.
The Higashi-Mito Road is a four-lane toll road in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.
The Tōkai-Kanjō Expressway is a toll road in the Tōkai region of Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company.
The Futtsu Tateyama Road is a 2-laned toll road in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.
The Keiyō Road is a limited access Tokyo-Chiba toll road in Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.
The Nikkō Utsunomiya Road is a toll road in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is signed E81 under the "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."
The Chiba-Tōgane Road is a toll road in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.
The Chitahantō Road is a 4-laned toll road in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It is managed by Aichi Prefectural Road Public Corporation.
The Minamichita Road is a 4-laned expressway, toll road in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It is managed by Aichi Prefectural Road Public Corporation.
The Odawara-Atsugi Road is a 4-laned toll road in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company.
The West Nippon Expressway Company Limited, abbreviated as NEXCO West, is one of the main operators of expressways and toll roads in Japan. It is headquartered on the 19th floor of Dojima Avanza in Kita-ku, Osaka. The company was established on October 1, 2005 as a result of the privatization of Japan Highway Public Corporation. The company manages roadways mainly in the Kansai and Chūgoku regions as well as on Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Okinawa Island. Roadways in other regions of Japan are managed by East Nippon Expressway Company and Central Nippon Expressway Company.
The Akita Expressway is a national expressway in the Tōhoku region of Japan. The 229.2-kilometer-long (142.4 mi) expressway begins at an interchange with the Tōhoku Expressway in Kitakami, Iwate from where it proceeds northwest towards the capital of Akita Prefecture, Akita. From there, it travels northeast back to another interchange along the Tōhoku Expressway in the town of Kosaka. It is jointly owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The Akita Expressway is numbered E7 between Kosaka and Kitakami Junctions and E46 between Kitakami and Kawabe Junctions under the MLIT's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."
The Higashifuji-goko Road is a 2-laned toll road linking Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company.
The Nishi-Fuji Road is a 4-laned toll road in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company. It is a bypass of National Route 139.
The Kyoto Jūkan Expressway is a national expressway in Kyoto Prefecture. It is owned and operated primarily by the West Nippon Expressway Company and the Kyoto Prefecture Road Corporation. The route is signed E9 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."
The Keinawa Expressway is a 104.9-km-long north–south National Highway with access control in the Kinki region of Japan that connects Kyoto Prefecture to Wakayama Prefecture via Nara Prefecture. It is numbered "E24" under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "Expressway Numbering Systemg."
The Kōchi-Tōbu Expressway is an incomplete two-lane national expressway in Kōchi Prefecture. It is owned and operated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The route is signed as an auxiliary route of National Route 55 as well E55 under MLIT's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."
The Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway is a tolled expressway that connects Hyōgo and Tokushima prefectures in Japan by crossings of the Akashi Strait and Naruto Strait. Built between 1970 and 1998, it is one of the three routes of the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company connecting Honshū and Shikoku islands. The route is signed E28 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."
The Mei-Nikan Expressway, or Nagoya Daini Kanjō Expressway, is a partially completed tolled expressway in Japan. It is owned and operated by the Central Nippon Expressway Company. Upon completion, the expressway will form a second ring road around Nagoya in conjunction with the Isewangan Expressway. It is signed as C2 under the "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."
The Sakai Senboku Road is a toll road in Osaka Prefecture. It is owned and operated by the West Nippon Expressway Company. The route is signed E90 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."