Western Japan Railway Firms Look to New Biz Opportunities

Economy

Osaka, Dec. 21 (Jiji Press)--Railway operators in the Kansai region of western Japan are looking to expand their businesses beyond existing operations, in efforts to boost earnings ahead of an expected decline in the populations in areas along their train lines.

West Japan Railway Co. <9021>, or JR West, sells fish raised in land-based aquaculture facilities. The company began cultivating mackerel at a facility using seawater pumped from underground, in Iwami, a coastal town in Tottori Prefecture, in 2017. The fish is known with the brand name of "Ojosaba," a mix of the words "ojosama," meaning madam, and "saba," meaning mackerel.

The company now raises a total of six types of fishery products in four prefectures, including "Beppin Sakura-Masu Urara" cherry salmon in the city of Imizu, Toyama Prefecture, and "Tore-Ebi-Yan" Japanese tiger prawn on a Hiroshima Prefecture island in the Seto Inland Sea. JR West began online sales of the products this October.

"New businesses in areas along our rail lines will promote residency there in the long term," Hiroaki Ishikawa, head of JR West's division responsible for creative projects, said. The company aims to boost sales by holding day trips to where the fish are being cultivated and offering the products at events at hotels run by the firm.

Keihan Holdings Co. <9045> sells through subsidiary Biostyle Co. cosmetics and shampoo using camellia and "yuzu" citron grown at partnered farms. "It may seem distant from (the railway business), but it is very close from the perspective of safety and caring for the environment," Keihan Chairman Yoshifumi Kato said of the new business.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press