The Ministry of International Trade and Industry will request 922.8 billion yen for its fiscal 1998 general accounts budget, ministry officials said August 26.

The outlay will be geared toward policies to promote economic structural reform, overcome energy problems and build environment-conscious economic systems, officials said. The figure represents a decrease of 0.2 percent from MITI’s initial budget for the current fiscal year.

As its five policy pillars, MITI cites promoting economic structural reforms, revitalizing local economies, creating an economic environment in accordance with global standards, overcoming energy problems and creating an economic cycle that is easy on the natural environment, and establishing efficient administrative systems. As part of economic structural reform initiatives, for example, the ministry will request 285.3 billion yen for research and development to promote new businesses in 15 strategic fields such as information and telecommunications, distribution, biotechnology and the environment.

To help achieve sustainable economic development in local areas, the ministry will ask for 31.5 billion yen for the revitalization of conventional commercial districts. This policy is widely regarded as a lubricant for further easing of restrictions over large retailers.

Amid growing pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the ministry wants 6.81 billion yen to help develop and propagate energy-efficient industrial furnaces, 16.2 billion yen to promote solar electricity generation systems, and 9.09 billion yen to encourage the purchase of hybrid cars.

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