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Government to set up fund to support regional health care businesses

Kyodo

The government plans to set up a fund to nurture healthcare businesses in rural areas in September at the earliest in an effort to revitalize the regional economy, according to the outline of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s related measures compiled as of Monday.

The fund will supply money to new businesses offering services and products for disease prevention in rural areas, such as the sale of healthy foods and instruction at sports clubs, with the aim of preventing the outflow of the workforce from such areas.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has designated the health care sector as a key area in its economic growth strategy as it tries to curb swelling medical expenses in Japan.

The industry ministry plans to include related expenses in its budget request for the next fiscal year starting in April 2015.

The fund, tentatively named “regional healthcare industry support fund,” will be operated by the Regional Economy Vitalization Corporation of Japan, a public and private fund, and it is hoped investment from regional financial institutions will eventually see the fund grow to several billion yen.

The government is also considering setting up chambers composed of companies and municipal offices in several locations in the country to conduct trial runs of jointly operating businesses in cooperation with the medical industry and other sectors, such as agriculture and tourism.

The government’s other regional revitalization measures include steps to support venture businesses through a government procurement scheme and to encourage the introduction of robots in the medical and nursing care industries.

The government also plans to select “core” companies that have close links with regional economies and promote joint projects with public research institutions and universities to help such companies start new businesses and expand their sales networks.

==Kyodo