Japan expresses keen interest in high-speed rail project

Japan expresses keen interest in high-speed rail project
Railway fans welcome the first train of the new Hokuriku "shinkansen", or bullet train, bound for Tokyo at Kanazawa station in Ishikawa prefecture. Japan has shown much interest in introducing their shinkansen line of trains for the HSR.

TOKYO - In perhaps the strongest indication of its interest, Japan has again told Malaysia that it hopes to take part in the 330km high-speed rail project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Addressing reporters after a 40-minute bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this was one of the five areas of increased co-operation under a new "strategic partnership" with Malaysia.

"I've told the Prime Minister (Najib) again that Japan strongly hopes to see the Shinkansen running on Malaysian land," he said yesterday.

Najib said they spent a lot of time discussing HSR, adding that both countries agreed on the importance of the project.

"And we take note of the interest Japan attaches to the project. We believe Japan will submit a highly competitive bid when the time comes," he said.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said Malaysia is looking to secure landing rights for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) at Haneda International Airport, some 20 minutes away from the city centre here.

He said his Japanese counterpart Akihiro Ohta indicated during a bilateral meeting that the Japanese government was willing to negotiate this matter.

"For the past two years, slots for Haneda have been very tight and it couldn't accommodate us," he told reporters after the meeting yesterday.

Liow, who is accompanying the Prime Minister on a three-day official visit here, said securing rights at Haneda would be highly beneficial to MAS as it could carry even more passengers if it plies that route.

"It's even higher than Narita," he said of the passenger load factor.

According to Liow, under MAS' restructuring plan, it wants to focus on medium-haul routes and become a regional hub for transit passengers.

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