The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism gave an order to the Japan Railway (JR) ? Hokkaido to improve operational performance, accusing of its negligence due to which three times of safety inspection had been conducted by the railway authority. An accident happened in September, 2013, in the premise of Ohnuma Station of the Hakodate Line, Hokkaido, where a freight train ran off the track. Here an analysis is made in the problem of the company; what is the central issue? Who is responsible?
A SYMBOLIC OUTCOME FROM DIVISION & PRIVATIZATION OF NATIONAL RAILWAY CORPORATION
Abnormal results found in every inspection
The JR-Hokkaido repeated accidents. On September 19, 2013, the freight cars derailed, and immediately, the Ministry’s Committee on Transport Safety began investigating. Negligence was found. The company had done nothing to correct irregularity of the gauge detected in the examination held three months before: the standard tolerable discrepancy is set as 19 mm, but the difference was 39 mm. The Ministry decided September 21 to change a method of inspection; to conduct a safety test. Then, data manipulation and other failures were found. The Ministry tested again on October 9, and it involved in special inspections for two months, focusing on manipulation of figures from November 14.
The committee finally found as many as 270 locations in which right maintenance was necessary. Safety situation was so serious.
Truths must be reported
The Ministry had a public meeting on January 21 with attendance of Minister to explain policies. He told: the ministry had ordered to the railroad company to improve performance in safety and advised about appropriate and sound management of business. It also suggested prior inquiries.
A 28-page of report was attached to combine with the ‘order’: ‘Necessary Actions to Guarantee Transportation Safety for JR-Hokkaido ? Fresh Start of Company’.
Inspection results were made public: ‘safety’ and ‘appropriate and sound management’ were hindered in the JR-Hokkaido and the company’s own efforts do not work properly at this moment to improve the situation. And therefore, the ministry issued ‘an order to improve performance’ and ‘other necessary orders from a point of control’.
The official of Ministry told that JR-Hokkaido had been advised to assure ‘safety in the routine job’ with a plan to establish a committee to inspect safety policy organized by a third-person. The government will spend for capital investment a sum, in total, of 60 billion Yen of interest-free loans from the JR Construction, Transport and Technology Agency and subsidies so that the JR-Hokkaido could immediately invest in plant and equipment for security. The Ministry was not precise about the truths like a quack doctor.
Critical time for Railway Union leadership
The National Railway Corporation had been proud of the world No.1 safety and accuracy. But it has vanished after its division and privatization. The accident of JR-Hokkaido is symbolic. Management of privatized JR companies was not judged responsible by the courts for illicit labor acts. It has kept a similar, irresponsible posture to deal with accidents, too.
Let’s look at examples. For JR-Tokai: on December 25, 1995, a passenger was killed at the Mishima Station of the Super-Express Train Shinkansen, which is the first lethal event since operation began. The company’s management claimed in the court that the passenger should be blamed for his carelessness.
For JR-East: it stole water from the river to generate electricity. The company had yielded losses amounting 5.7 billion Yen, but consequently, it did not apologize sincerely and established a new, successor firm.
Discrimination and poverty has spread across the nation today. Pro-government groups who try to amend the constitution control the most influential broadcasting company, NHK, and attempt to exterminate democracy itself.
For those who have warned about safety of transportation have the right and responsibility to demand restitution. The New Socialist Party asks leaders of the Railway Union to actively inquire truths right now.
February 18, 2014