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Tokyo Station Makeover May Lure Tourists to Financial Area

Satoshi Seino, president of East Japan Railway Co.  Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg
Satoshi Seino, president of East Japan Railway Co. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- East Japan Railway Co.’s 50 billion yen ($645 million) re-fit of Tokyo Station may help transform the financial district of Japan’s capital into a tourist destination, said President Satoshi Seino.

“We want to make it a symbol of Tokyo,” he said in a Sept. 7 interview. “We want people to come and see it and stay in the hotel.” He declined to comment on sales forecasts.

Work on the station in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district, most of which is due to be completed in June, includes the restoration of rooftop domes destroyed in World War II and the construction of a plaza that will be lit up at night. The enlarged 150-room station hotel and a gallery will open in October 2012.

JR East, Japan’s largest train operator, also intends to open a 13-story building with 13,800 square meters (148,500 square feet) of retail space at the station in August to help offset a slowdown in travel growth caused by Japan’s shrinking population. The Tokyo-based company plans to increase the share of revenue it gets from shops, hotels and office buildings to almost 40 percent by fiscal 2018 from 30 percent now, Seino said.

“The number of people living in Tokyo is still increasing,” he said. “We want to tap into that demand.”

Tokyo Developments

JR East is also constructing a new building at Tokyo’s Shinjuku station, the nation’s busiest. It has already completed developments at other stations in the city, including Shinagawa.

Tokyo station handled an average of 384,000 passengers a day in the year ended March 2010, making it the capital’s fourth-busiest terminus, according to JR East. The Marunouchi district houses offices for companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. and Nippon Life Insurance Co., Japan’s largest life insurer.

JR East rose 0.6 percent to 4,725 yen at the 3 p.m. close of trading in Tokyo as the Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 0.6 percent. The railway operator has dropped 11 percent this year.

The company’s bullet-train services to northern Japan have resumed service following the March 11 earthquake, which damaged tracks, bridges and tunnels. The company deployed 8,500 engineers and spent seven weeks undertaking repair work.

Sales from railway operations rebounded last month to year-earlier levels for the first time since the earthquake. They slid 2.4 percent in July, the fifth straight month of declines.

The company expects sales across all of it businesses to decline 1.5 percent this fiscal year to 2.5 trillion yen.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net; Kiyotaka Matsuda in Tokyo at kmatsuda@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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