Central China Logistics Hanya 1, the tailored 500-TEU vessel for the Wuhan-Japan direct container shipping route, departed the Yangluo Port in Wuhan, capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, and headed for Japan.

In five days, the ship will sail eastward alongside the Yangtze River and arrive at the port of Osaka in Japan, marking the formal operation of the direct river-ocean container shipping route linking Wuhan and Japan.

As an official from Wuhan Port and Shipping Development Group explained the Wuhan-Japan shipping route adopts a “point-to-point” shipping mode, under which the related container vessels set off from the Yangluo port in Wuhan and stop in Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya and other ports in Japan.

Previously, container ships from Wuhan to Japan need transshipment in Shanghai and were often troubled by uncertainties in marine traffic and weather conditions, which directly increased the logistics cycle and costs of related enterprises.

Zhang Lin, director of Wuhan New Port Administration Committee, said that compared with the past transshipment-needed river-ocean joint transportation, the new direct container shipping service saves more than a 1,000 km shipping distance and about two days of shipping time.

It differs from the past shipping routes in management concepts, vessel utilisation, cargo source organisation and shipping services, noted Zhang.

Operation of the route means Wuhan can directly carry out logistics trade with Japan and the new route is likely to be a key bridge to boost economic and trade cooperation between China and Japan, remarked Zhang.

As Zhang hopes, Japanese enterprises are anticipated to make good use of the route so as to bring the Sino-Japan economic and trade cooperation in inland areas of China to a new height.

On Thursday, the city also launched the China’s Wuhan-Japan river ocean direct shipping and international joint transportation project. Under the program, the newly-launched direct container shipping route will be connected with the Sino-Europe freight train routes of Wuhan to forge new international trade channels linking ports of Japan, Wuhan of Hubei Province, the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe.

By then, cargo from Japan can be transported to Europe and the Middle East via transshipment in Wuhan, saving more than 10 days compared with that by the existing maritime shipping routes between Japan and Europe.