Six special strategic deregulation zones named by panel

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A government panel on Friday designated six areas, including in Tokyo and Kansai, as special strategic zones to promote economic deregulation.

The National Strategic Special Zones are one of the structural reform projects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s deflation-busting “Abenomics” plan.

“With the designation of the special zones, we have put in place a drill to break through the tough bedrock of regulations,” Abe, who chairs the panel, was quoted as saying by internal affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo after the meeting. Shindo is in charge of the project.

According to the plan, the Tokyo zone will include either part or all of Kanagawa Prefecture, plus Narita, Chiba Prefecture. It will receive a business environment upgrade to attract people and investment from abroad.

Also being targeted is the development of new business areas, especially in the field of drug development, by encouraging startups.

The Kansai region, consisting of Osaka, Hyogo and either part or all of Kyoto Prefecture, is projected to become an international hub for innovation in health and medical care.

The other four areas are the cities of Niigata and Fukuoka, as well as Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture, and Okinawa Prefecture.

Niigata is being eyed as a hub for large-scale farming reform, while Yabu is expected to become a center for agricultural reform in semi-mountainous areas.

Fukuoka will be given the goal of supporting entrepreneurs through “employment innovation.”

Okinawa’s mission is to promote international tourism by developing world-class resorts.

The exact areas for the special zones will be fixed by a government ordinance in late April after consultations with the relevant parties, including prefectures and municipalities, Shindo said.

Shindo also said that concrete plans for each zone will be studied after setting up conferences with each area.

In addition, setting up a medical school to educate people interested in working in international health care and emerging economies is another idea under consideration, the panel said.