When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Washington, D.C., for a state dinner on Tuesday, he’ll be expected to mention the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as his hopes for the future of U.S.-Japanese relations. The controversial leader, whose attitude toward wartime responsibilities has provoked harsh criticism in China and South Korea, will have high-speed transportation on his mind as well, however – namely, the maglev train technology that could be used to build a train line to get people from D.C. to Baltimore in just 15 minutes.
The train, on which the Japanese government is willing to spend $5 billion, would be one piece of a much larger effort by Abe and his country to export its high-speed train tech to the U.S. for use in California and the Northeast, potentially making one-hour train trips from D.C. to New York a reality. That would be an improvement over Amtrak’s Acela line by about one hour and 45 minutes.
The magnetic train tech that would be used for the D.C.-Baltimore line reached a record speed of 603 kilometers per hour in a test on April 21, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Abe has pressed President Obama to support the maglev rollout previously and would love to see it green-lighted as a focal point of cooperation between the two nations. It’s just one part of an ongoing push hitched to Abe’s Japanese recovery plan – referred to as “Abenomics” – to put Japan on the path to sustained economic growth. And if it results in faster, more dependable commutes for the D.C. region, plenty of riders would likely love to see him succeed.
As for Abe, how he chooses to apologize (or not apologize) for Japan’s actions during World War II is likely to overshadow his other activities while he visits the U.S. An economic win that carries promises for the D.C. area could score him some PR points – but he would have to walk away with a substantial announcement for it to become what he is remembered for when he returns home.