Chain stores call for more freedom

As a government review of the Large-Scale Retail Store Law looms, an association of chain stores called Feb. 26 for greater freedom in choosing closing times, business days and opening new stores.

Katsuhiro Fujiseki, chairman of the Japan Chain Stores Association made the remarks during a breakfast meeting with trade chief Shinji Sato, according to an official of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Deregulation of such factors will help diversify services, enhance competition and eventually benefit consumers, said Fujiseki, who is also president of Seiyu Ltd.

Regarding the restrictions over opening new stores, however, Fujiseki urged Sato to first prohibit local governments’ from putting their own curbs in place before removing those of the central government. Sato said the government plans to review the Large-Scale Retail Store Law by the end of fiscal 1997, and that various opinions are currently being voiced within the ministry.

While acknowledging concerns about the diminishment of local shopping arcades, he also noted that the emergence of large stores will help generate employment. Under the current law, large retailers are required to report to the government when they want to operate after 8 p.m. or for more than 341 days a year.