LDP panel releases reform plans

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s task force for administrative reform on Mar. 14 announced a set of comprehensive plans to promote deregulation.

The package, which LDP officials said would be indispensable not only to revitalize the nation’s economy but also to make Japan a more accessible country, was submitted later in the day to Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama. The top items on the deregulation agenda are those related to the proposed “Big Bang” financial reform plan, which Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has pledged to implement by 2001 to make the nation’s financial markets free, fair and global.

The plans include 77 separate suggestions covering 10 areas — finance and securities, transportation, land and housing, judicial affairs, labor, medicine and welfare, agriculture and fisheries, telecommunication, education and market competition promotion policies. The package should be included in a government plan on deregulation that is scheduled to be compiled by the end of this month, Koko Sato, head of the task force, said. “The deregulation plans we suggested may be considered to be too drastic by some people, but we believe the plans will be indispensable for transforming Japan into a country that is open both domestically and internationally,” Sato told reporters.

The deregulation plans were drafted based on the principle of self responsibility and market principles, said Mitsuo Horiuchi, chief of the task force’s subcommittee on deregulation. But Horiuchi said such deregulation should not be implemented in a way that victimizes small and medium-size firms, adding that some countermeasures should be taken to prevent such a situation.

To promote financial liberalization, a total of 18 deregulation plans were drafted, including the abolition or, at least a total review, of taxes on securities transactions by fiscal 1998. The plans also said that regulations preventing new entry into the securities industry should be drastically reviewed by June, and that several regulations related to unlisted stocks should be eased.