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Traditionally productive and efficient

Japan: Efficiency Champion in the Far East

Japan has always been a source of fascination because of its culture and mentality. But even beyond that, this East Asian Pacific nation of 123.3 million people boasts a highly developed economy and excellent infrastructure. Logical, really: As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, transport needs to be organized perfectly and efficiently. Find out more about airports on islands, the world-famous Shinkansen and its magnetic counterpart.

With its location on 14,125 islands, Japan is historically considered the first industrialized nation in Asia. Despite the devastation of World War II, the Japanese economy developed rapidly and leapt (once again) to the top of the world. Until the economic rise of the People's Republic of China in the early 2000s, the country was considered a global economic powerhouse for many decades, right behind the USA and in a neck-and-neck race with the EU.

Cutting-edge technology, productivity and efficiency

Close cooperation between government and industry, a traditionally strong work ethic, research and technology, a strong emphasis on education, and increasing productivity through automation characterize the island nation. Of course, all of this also requires a modern and efficient infrastructure. In the World Bank's 2023 Logistics Performance Index, Japan ranked high among more than 160 countries. The country scored particularly well in transport infrastructure and logistics expertise.

Best practices: Transport

Transport is already an area where the land of the rising sun truly shines. Not only Tokyo with its millions of inhabitants, but the entire country of Japan is set apart from other countries in Asia by its highly developed national infrastructure. Not only has this highly industrialized country profited from a rapidly growing tourist industry owing to its diverse character, it has also placed great focus on diverse options for transport and commerce due to its geographic situation as an island nation. Thanks in no small part to its comprehensive shipping and air freight capacities and the associated international connections, Japan is a world leader in global trade.

Dense transportation networks

Japan’s regional infrastructure is based on extremely sophisticated and modern road and rail networks. The Japanese road network now consists of 1,218,800 kilometers of highways, and the railroad network has roughly 27,000 kilometers of rails. The close-knit local transportation network ensures good connections between urban areas and their surroundings. In Tokyo alone have access to 882 train stations (including 282 subway stations) to bring travellers quickly to their destinations in an environmentally friendly way. Incidentally, in case you ever plan to visit Japan: Don’t be surprised by the different track gauges between the iconic high-speed train lines and the rest of the rail network.

Japan also profits from expansive sea and air connections. With over 5,000 ports and its large merchant fleet, the country and international trade can rely on uninterrupted deliveries of raw materials, fuel, food and other essential goods. This supply is extremely important to “Nippon”, which is highly reliant on imports.

Thriving ports and bustling airports

The ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya are among the most important in the country. A full 25 percent of all industrial goods are shipped all over the world through the port in Tokyo, and 2019 saw roughly 4.5 million TEU of container handling at this port. The total for all of Japan is 21.7 million TEU.

With an annual freight volume of about 185 million tons, the port of Nagoya is the country’s largest. It handles 10 percent of the total trade volume of Japan.

The ports are supplemented by over 170 airports, distributed across the entire country. Air transport is relied on heavily for moving passengers but also for importing goods, in particular. While the largest airport in Japan, “Tokio Haneda”, is primarily considered a major passenger airport, “Tokio Narita” comes in first in terms of cargo. Over 2.35 million tons of cargo were moved in 2022. On the other hand, “Osaka Kansai” is located directly adjacent to the Tokyo Freight Terminal of the Japanese national railway, which has recently seen increased demand for rail freight transport again. In addition to reducing emissions, there is another reason - the lack of truck drivers respectively their old age.
As a side note, the Japanese are famous for locating their airports on artificial islands (Kansai, Chūbu, Kobe and Nagoya) since land is scarce in the densely populated country.

Quantity and quality

Thanks to its outstanding infrastructure, Japan has perhaps the most efficient public transportation system in the world. The development and use of high-speed trains, called the Shinkansen, as well as the specially built high-speed rail network played a major role here. The Shinkansen has been carrying passengers since 1964 – as an Olympic project – and is considered a forerunner of rapid goods transport. The world-renowned trains achieve speeds up to 320 km/h and link all major Japanese cities. For example, the section from Tokyo to Sendai, about 370 km in length, can be traveled in just 1 hour and 33 minutes.

The future is magnetic and it levitates

But even that is not enough. Japan is currently in the final phase of building the most expensive infrastructure project of all time. “Chūō-Shinkansen” is the magic word and refers to a superconducting maglev railway under development at the Central Japan Railway Company and the Railway Technical Research Institute since the 1970s. The same magnetic forces that lift the train also move it forward and keep it centered in the track. This is the same technology used by Tesla’s Hyperloop. It guarantees a smooth and exceptionally safe ride. Test runs have so far reached speeds of just over 600 km/h. The line has been under construction since 2014 and is expected to enter operation in 2027. However, it will take some time before the maglev network has grown as extensive as the “traditional” rail network. Perhaps it will be ready in time for another Olympics in the future.

cargo-partner is now a proud member of NX Group

We are excited to announce that the Japan-based logistics company NIPPON EXPRESS has completed the acquisition of cargo-partner in 2024, in accordance with the share transfer agreement concluded in May 2023.

Both organizations will benefit from considerable synergies in global office coverage and an expanded service portfolio. Additionally NX Group will benefit from cargo-partner's strong and extensive network in Central and Eastern Europe that complements NX’s existing network in an ideal way, and cargo-partner will jump several leagues in the Intra-Asian and Trans-Pacific trade lanes.

As we embark on this exciting journey with NX Group, we extend our gratitude to our loyal customers, partners, and the entire cargo-partner community. Your trust and support have been instrumental in our success, and we are confident that this new chapter will bring about even greater achievements.