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An advisory panel to the prime minister announced Friday that it has selected three regions on Honshu as prime candidates for Japan’s future capital, scheduled to be completed around 2010.The Council for the Relocation of the Diet and Other Organizations said it will start feasibility studies on the three regions, which it named as Hokuto, Tokai and Mie-Kio. Specific candidate cities for the new capital will be chosen among cities or prefectures in these regions in fall 1999.Each region encompasses several prefectures. For example, the Hokuto region covers Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectures. Construction of the new capital is scheduled to start sometime after 2004.The government will need as much as 14 trillion yen to complete the relocation, according to estimates drawn up by the National Land Agency in 1992. Relocating half the existing administrative functions was estimated to cost 7.5 trillion yen, while total relocation of the capital’s administrative functions was estimated at 12.3 trillion yen, according to a model budget released earlier by the council.The budget also stated the burden to be borne by the public sector would be kept below 4.4 trillion yen. The independent council was set up following the Diet’s revision of a law in June 1996 on the relocation of the Diet and other organizations.Transfer of the capital is expected to make Japan better able to withstand natural disasters and to prompt further economic growth. However, lawmakers with constituencies in Tokyo have remained opposed to relocating the capital. A final decision will be made after comparing the final candidate site with Tokyo.Another government panel has recommended that the new site be chosen by the end of 1999 so that a new building can be constructed in time for Diet sessions starting in 2010. No final government decision has been made on whether the capital should be moved outside of Tokyo.

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