THE THREE Japan Railways Group companies operating on Honshu became fully-fledged commercial companies on December 1, when a law change approved by the Diet on June 15 came into force (RG 7.01 p446). The law frees JR East, JR Central and JR West from many state controls, giving them the same rights as a conventional private company.

The government had retained powers to appoint senior managers, vet the company business plans, and control the issuance of bonds for financing. These restrictions were removed to enable the sale of the final state shares in each company, but in practice the government has decided not to proceed with the sales until market conditions improve.

JR East President Otsuka and and JR-West President Nan-ya both welcomed the implementation of the legislation, emphasising to senior management the significance of the changes.