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Japan's 23-year train fare freeze ends in Hokkaido

Left behind by tourism boom, northern rail operator first to break ranks

A train at JR Hokkaido's Shin-Totsukawa Station. The island's large area and harsh winters pose major challenges for the ailing railway. (Photo by Kentaro Shiozaki)

SAPPORO, Japan -- The Japanese railway operator on the northern island of Hokkaido looks to raise fares for the first time in 23 years as it struggles with losses little relieved by the tourism boom sweeping the rest of the country.

Hokkaido Railway, also known as JR Hokkaido, filed with the transport ministry on Friday to boost ticket prices by an average of 11.1% when Japan's consumption tax rises by 2 percentage points to 10% in October.

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