The coronavirus pandemic and Ukraine’s war has forced Japan to look for alternate international supply routes, owing to delays in transportation and shortages causing rise in prices of commodities.
Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is recruiting cargo firms and logistics businesses to participate in testing deliveries with government backing of 1 million yen ($7,800) per consignment. Testing could begin as soon as this March. A report on its activities is intended to be made around the fall, Mainichi reported.
Although disruption to the international freight system is easing, the transport ministry maintains it is "important to secure complementary replacement routes in case of emergencies."
Among the alternative routes planned are the use of ports in Canada, Mexico and the east coast of the United States instead of the U.S. west coast, where ships were left unable to offload their cargo during the coronavirus pandemic due to truck driver shortages.
Meanwhile, Russian invasion of Ukraine has limited supply line options via Russia with flights being diverted around its airspace and its Trans-Siberian Railway seeing less use.
Strikes for more pay by dockworkers in Europe have also caused disruptions and Japan is considering routes leaving regional ports on the Sea of Japan side of the country that would then take sea and railway routes via China, Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, Turkey and elsewhere.
But few Japanese companies currently use the routes, and in addition to cost and time issues, the ministry will need to test the effects of goods being shaken during the journey as well as their temperature during transit.