Episode 387 – The Iron Road, Part 4

For our final episode in the series, we’re taking a look at the demise of public rail in Japan and the privatization of JNR. What led one of Japan’s biggest companies down the track (ha!) of being broken up, and where does that leave Japan’s rail network today?


Kim, Chul Ju and Michael C. Huang. “The Privatization of Japan Railways and Japan Post: Why, How, and Now.” No 1039, November 2019, Asian Development Bank Institute.

Smith, Ian, “10 Years of JR Operation-The Explicit and Implicit Aims of JNR Privatization.” Japan Railway and Transport Review, September, 1997.

Smith, Ian. “The Privatization of the JNR in Historical Perspective: An Evaluatlion of Government Policy on the Operation of the National Railways in Japan.” Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Sterling Dept of Japanese Studies, June 1996.

Fukui, Koichiro. Japanese National Railways Privatization Study: The Experience of Japan and Lessons for Developing Countries. World Bank Report, 1992.


Kokuro protestors during the Marusei period.
A train defaced during the Fall, 1975 strike to revise the nation’s laws around public striking.
The ‘launch’ ceremony for the JR group in the Spring of 1987.
JNR’s privatization is announced by the leadership in 1985.

The six JR passenger groups. There are three more JR companies which handle freight nationally, as well as research and IT for train lines.



1 thought on “Episode 387 – The Iron Road, Part 4”

  1. I will always be grateful that JNR privatized for those sweet, sweet JR railpasses for us gaijin.
    I’m sure the trainspotters are upset that you didn’t talk more about the kinds of trains Japan made and which models are awesome.
    Did you hear about the station that stayed operating just for one student until she graduated high school?

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