Special economic zone planned

Deregulation promoted for Tokyo Games

Kyodo

The government will promote deregulation in Tokyo to tap private-sector money for developing social infrastructure ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to designate the capital as a special economic zone under his policy package to stimulate growth, including incentives for investment in building facilities for the sports event as well as transportation infrastructure.

The government also named education minister Hakubun Shimomura to double as state minister in charge of the Olympics.

Employing private-sector funds and know-how for infrastructure development will help the government decrease its fiscal burden for such projects at a time when state finances have been suffering from growing debt, the worst among major developed countries.

The government was to discuss the scheme, called private finance initiative, later in the day at a meeting of its panel on economic and fiscal policy, the sources said.

The planned deregulation could last for three to four years, they said. The government will call for ideas from local governments on potential PFI projects.

Under Abe’s growth strategy, the government is aiming to triple the size of PFI projects over the next decade from the previous 10 years.

Shimomura, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said the Olympics will give Japan a chance to emphasize its recovery from the 2011 quake and tsunami and promote its culture and art.

“The Olympics will help revitalize Japan. We will not leave the event to end simply as a sports fest,” he told a press conference.

‘Huge responsibility’

Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda on Friday said Tokyo has a big responsibility in hosting the 2020 Olympics and he hopes that the capital can rise to the occasion.

“Tokyo has a huge responsibility,” Takeda told reporters after arriving home from Buenos Aires, where Tokyo achieved a crushing victory over rivals Istanbul and Madrid last Saturday to win the right to stage the 2020 Games. “We have to respond to the hopes of the world and put on a fantastic event.”

“The journey from the start of our campaign to be a host city feels like it has been a really long one but all of a sudden it’s over. I am relieved that we achieved a good result.”

Takeda stayed in Buenos Aires until Tuesday, the final day of the International Olympic Committee session, when Germany’s Thomas Bach was named the ninth president of the IOC.

Asked if baseball-softball will return for the 2020 Olympics, Takeda said, “According to the current Olympic Charter we would implement the sports in the existing program as they are, but if President Bach decides to make revisions then that is another story. I believe it is a real possibility and I want to cooperate.”

Wrestling, which was dropped from the list of core Olympic sports in February, regained its spot Sunday, beating out a combined baseball-softball bid and squash for inclusion starting from 2020.