was the fourth president of the Japan National Railways (JNR) and is credited with the creation of the first "bullet train" - the Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Shinji Sogo graduated from the Faculty of Law at Tokyo Imperial University in 1909, and joined the Railway Agency
The Japanese Government Railways was the national railway system directly operated by the central government of Japan until 1949. It is a predecessor of Japanese National Railways and the Japan Railways Group.- Name :...
. While working for the Teito Reconstruction Agency after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, he was strongly influenced by Shinpei Gotō, the Agency president.
After leaving the government railways in 1926, he became a director of the South Manchuria Railway
The , and operated within China in the Japanese-controlled South Manchuria Railway Zone. The railway itself ran from Lüshun Port at the southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula to Harbin, where it connected to the Chinese Eastern Railway.-History:...
. After the war, he served as Chairman of the Railway Welfare Association until he was appointed JNR president in 1955.
Influence on the Shinkansen
The decision to construct a standard-gauge Shinkansen at the end of the 1950s owed much to Shinji Sogō. To improve the existing Tōkaidō Main Line
The is the busiest trunk line of the Japan Railways Group , connecting Tōkyō and Kōbe stations. It is long, not counting its many freight feeder lines around the major cities...
, he insisted on adopting standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...
despite much opposition. He firmly believed that the international standard gauge was indispensable for radical improvement of Japanese railways - a view taken by Shinpei Gotō about 50 years earlier. This view was also shared by Hideo Shima
was a Japanese engineer and the driving force behind the building of the first bullet train .Shima was born in Osaka in 1901, and educated at the Tokyo Imperial University, where he studied engineering...
who had been appointed by Sogō as the chief engineer of the Shinkansen
The , also known as THE BULLET TRAIN, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group companies. Starting with the Tōkaidō Shinkansen in 1964, the network has expanded to currently consist of of lines with maximum speeds of , of Mini-shinkansen with a...
Sogō devised a plan to make it almost impossible for the government to withdraw its support, once given. Central to Sogo's strategy was the use of a loan from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...
). This was apparently an idea put to him by future Prime Minister and then Minister of Finance, Eisaku Satō
This article is about the Prime Minister of Japan. For the governor of Fukushima Prefecture of Japan of the same name, see Eisaku Satō ....
, who had previously worked with Sogō in the Railway Ministry. With the successful application for a $80 million loan (estimated to be no more than 15% of the cost of the line) in place, it ensured that the Japanese government had to remain committed to the project. At the same time, Sogō, who had deliberately kept estimated cost figures of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen
low for fear that if they were too high neither the Japanese Government nor the World Bank would have supported the proposal, began to divert money from other JNR projects to the construction of the Shinkansen. This was possible because once JNR's total budget was approved by the Diet, the JNR president had "discretionary authority" over how to spend it. Sogo also kept down the declared maximum proposed speed at a relatively modest 200 km/h and argued successfully that this was not a new line but expansion of existing Tōkaidō Line.
When the budget diversion became a political issue, he resigned in 1963, taking full responsibility for the decision. However, much of the credit for the Tōkaidō Shinkansen
goes to him.
A plaque commemorating Shinji Sogō was installed on platforms 18/19 at Tokyo Station
is a train station located in the Marunouchi business district of Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan, near the Imperial Palace grounds and the Ginza commercial district....