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The $80 Billion Train Project Caught in Scandal

Kobe Steel Ltd. Plants As Scandal Expands To Its Core Business
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
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A widening scandal that has led to arrests of executives from two construction companies threatens to put the brakes on Japan’s plan to build the world’s fastest train. To surpass the nation’s famous bullet train, the project incorporates magnetic-levitation technology that promises to cut journey times from Tokyo to Osaka by more than half, to just over an hour. The $80 billion project carries the government’s added hopes of exporting the maglev technology.

It centers on possible collusion on contracts for the project by four of the giants of Japan’s construction industry -- Kajima Corp., Shimizu Corp., Obayashi Corp. and Taisei Corp. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Japan Fair Trade Commission raided their headquarters in December following reports that the four companies were under investigation for possible antitrust violations related to maglev contracts.