SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Major changes are slated for toll roads through some of Japan’s most booming cities and areas directly affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The temporary changes will impact people traveling in and around Tokyo, Osaka, and the northern region of Tohoku, which was affected by the March 11 disaster, Japanese government and expressway officials said this week.

From Thursday through March 31, vehicles equipped with the Electric Toll Collection system will not be charged on expressways in the Tohoku region – specifically between Aomori Prefecture and Mito in Ibaragi Prefecture, which is about 64 miles north of Tokyo. This move is being made to ease access for those assisting in recovery and reconstruction efforts and to boost tourism, according to officials from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

In addition, the Metropolitan and Hanshin expressways, which run through parts of Tokyo and Osaka, will change their fee schedules starting Jan. 1, officials said.

Instead of paying a fee for travel on each expressway, motorists will pay a slightly lower fee up front upon entry that will be good for travel within the area. For example, the toll fee between Tokyo’s central areas to Kanagawa will be reduced to 900 yen from 1,300 yen if a motorist is paying the toll in cash, according to the Metropolitan Expressway Company.

Vehicles with ETC will pay by distance traveled instead of one uniform fee regardless of distance.

Also beginning Jan. 1, Department of Defense drivers with government-issued toll passes will provide one pass upon entry to either expressway, which will be good for travel within both, officials said. These drivers will receive a receipt that can be scanned upon leaving the expressways instead of providing passes for each roadway. The driver must keep the receipt until the destination booth because he might be required to present it at the booth that connects the Tokyo and Kanagawa lines.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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