Book review

Japanese National Railways - Its Break-up and Privatization

by Yoshiyuki Kasai.

As President of JR Central, Kasai is exceptionally well placed to comment on the process that led to the break-up of JNR into six regional companies and JR Freight. In this book, originally published in Japanese in 2001, he reveals his close involvement in plans to dismantle JNR at a time when politicians, trade union leaders and JNR management clashed frequently over policies to rescue the national network from financial catastrophe.

Secret negotiations led to Kasai becoming 'accustomed to living a double life: one by day and the other at night'. Bringing the privatisation plans to the point where they could be implemented was a triumph of persistence and commitment based on a belief that JNR could not continue to operate without fundamental reform.

Despite the successful listing of JR Central, JR West and JR East on the Tokyo stock exchange, Kasai admits that the chosen formula of privatisation is not perfect, and he fears that 'the management of the JR companies have been intoxicated with their own success'.

The book includes a 'panel discussion' on rail privatisation with Diethelm Sack of German Railway, Sir Steve Robson, former Director of Finance, Regulation & Industry of the UK Treasury, and David Freud of UBS Warburg.

ISBN 1-901903-45-1

£16·50 from Global Oriental, PO Box 219, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2WP, UK.
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