From polling station to political station? Politics and the shinkansen

Statute to Banboku Ono (pointing to the station and Tokyo) and his wife outside Gifu-Hashima station (300 series at platform). Statue to commemorate Ono’s efforts in having a shinkansen station built in Gifu Prefecture – although these efforts may have been greatly over-stated

More often than not, discussions of the development of the shinkansen (‘bullet train’) in Japan focus on the Joetsu Shinkansen between Tokyo and Niigata, Tanaka Kakuei and pork-barrel politics. This article aims to offer an objective analysis of the building of the shinkansen lines and stations and the intervention of politicians in their construction from the 1950s to the present. It begins by considering the development of railways in Japan from the Meiji era
through the early post-war years and argues that lessons learned from this past were far more important than pork-barrel politics not only when it came to construction of the Joetsu Line, but also in relation to the decisions to construct other shinkansen lines. By focusing on the facts and the logic of railway construction in Japan, it attempts to separate the history of the shinkansen from the various myths surrounding this ‘symbol’ of modern Japan and to lay a basis for more focused and revealing inquiry into the operation of pork-barrel politics in that country.

From polling station to political station? Politics and the shinkansenJapan Forum, Volume 18, Number 1 / March 2006, pages 45-63


If you are interested in the shinkansen, you may also be interested in the following posts and pages of mine:

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