The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will build a new wharf that can handle large cruise ships to bring more tourists to the capital, Gov. Naoki Inose said.

“The economic impact brought by cruise ships is huge as the passengers go sightseeing and shopping in the city. Port calls by those ships will help bolster Tokyo’s image as an international tourism destination,” Inose told the metropolitan assembly Wednesday.

The new wharf will be constructed in the Aomi district.

Ocean liners coming to Tokyo usually dock at the Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal. However, to reach that pier they have to pass under the Rainbow Bridge. With a clearance of 52 meters, the span is too low for large cruise ships to pass under.

According to Tadashi Inoue, a section chief in the port and harbor bureau, the metropolitan government has received several offers from the operator of a large cruise ship for port calls but was rejected from docking at Harumi because of the height problem.

“We had to arrange for the ship to dock at Oi Marine Products Wharf,” well south of the main waterfront area, Inoue said.

“Tokyo needs to create a new facility to accept large cruise ships,” he said, adding that liners are only getting bigger as operators cast their eyes on the Asian market, including Tokyo.

The new pier should accommodate the world’s largest passenger ships, which is 65 meters high, 362 meters long and has a gross tonnage of 220,000, Inoue said.

The new terminal is to be built by fiscal 2019 in Koto Ward, just south of the eastern end of the Rainbow Bridge. This is closer to central Tokyo than the Oi dock, but circumvents the bridge.

Inoue said the new wharf will have to be up and running before 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympics.

“The Olympic Village is to be built in the Harumi area, which will force the current passenger terminal to cease operation,” Inoue said. “In that sense, it’s a must to finish construction by 2019.”

He said Tokyo expects Y200 million in economic benefits from a cruise ship the size of the U.S. liner Voyager of the Seas.

“When it called at Naha, Okinawa, average spending per passenger was Y38,000,” he said. “The ship carries about 5,000 people, including passengers and crew.”

(c)2013 the Japan Times (Tokyo). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Photo Credit: The Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal is the only major cruise ship terminal in Japan, and it's too small for today's large ships. Guilhem Vellut / Flickr