Schwarzenegger impressed by Japan’s bullet train technology

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 14 took a test ride of a chartered shinkansen bullet train between Tokyo and Omiya in Saitama Prefecture, north of the capital, as his state is seeking to introduce a high-speed railway system.

The governor, who is on a two-day trade mission to Japan from Sept. 13, told reporters the train was “quiet and futuristic” and that he was “impressed by the technology and infrastructure itself.”

He also promoted Californian products at a supermarket in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward.

Earlier in the day, Schwarzenegger praised Japan’s high-speed railway system at a breakfast meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan at a Tokyo hotel, saying the Japanese “have a genius mind” and developed the bullet train system that has “had no casualties in all of these decades operating.”

“We want to have that kind of mind and technology helping us” in building a high-speed railway system in his state.

He highlighted the importance of infrastructure to spur the local economy and meet the needs of the increasing population in California, which is projected to reach 50 million by 2040 from the current level of 38 million.

“If you don’t have the infrastructure in place, your economy can never grow. I have been fanatic about infrastructure ever since I became governor,” said Schwarzenegger, who took office in 2003.

The project to build a high-speed railway system, centered around a line linking San Francisco and Los Angeles, is expected to cost $40 billion and countries such as Britain, Germany, France, China and South Korea have been bidding for it, he said.

The governor is visiting Japan with Californian business representatives as part of a three-nation Asian trip, which also involves visits to China and South Korea and test rides of high-speed rail systems in the three countries.

Schwarzenegger pitched tourism and products of his state such as wines and sought mutually beneficial business relations with Japan. “We also like to help the Japanese because both of us are right now stagnant when it comes to the economy and both can help each other,” he said.

The governor also said California is promoting alternative power sources for vehicle engines, such as hydrogen, electricity and hybrid, to achieve the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 to return to 1990 levels and that the planned introduction of more trains is in line with that policy.

Following the ACCJ meeting, Schwarzenegger met with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara to exchange views on environmental issues.

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