Law would let prime minister designate deregulation zones

The government plans to enact a new law authorizing the prime minister to designate regulation-free special economic zones as part of a fresh package to fight deflation, sources said Wednesday.

The government will submit a bill on the Special Economic Zone Law to the Diet during the extraordinary session to be convened Oct. 18 with the goal of implementing it by the end of March, they said.

The bill will be based on a special program to promote such special economic zones, which calls for allowing private entities to propose such zones through local municipalities and lease port facilities.

The program calls special economic zones “a breakthrough in structural reform” and requires government ministries to clarify deregulation measures that can be taken in such zones or nationwide.

According to the sources, the authority to designate or nullify such zones would be given to the prime minister in an attempt to reduce bureaucratic meddling.

Local governments have proposed 426 special economic zones, and the national government plans to accept additional proposals until Jan. 15 under the program.

The program calls for setting up a system to assess the effects of special economic zones within a year after the law is enacted.