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KYOTO — A new “Japanese way” that places emphasis on greater flexibility in decision making and less bureaucratic control are necessary if Japan’s corporations are to remain competitive in the next century.

At the same time, the Kansai region can achieve economic revitalization through the expansion of large-scale public works projects in Osaka Bay and events like the 2008 Olympics, keynote speakers at the 37th Kansai Economic Seminar said Friday.

Those were the main messages to the approximately 360 participants from the Kansai area’s leading corporations. Throughout the day, a series of workshops — on the current economic crisis, reform of administrative and financial systems at national and local levels, the employment problem, and reinvigorating cities — were held.

While much of the focus of the two-day event was on the macroeconomic policies of the administration of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, the problems of the Kansai region received particular attention Friday afternoon. In the session on revitalizing the region, keynote speaker Shogo Sasabe, chairman of Bando Chemical Industries, said that three elements were necessary.

“First,” he said, “support must be given to revitalizing small and medium-size businesses. Second, venture capital must be provided for new businesses. And third, municipalities must build new infrastructures, including new transportation and information systems.”

Koichi Kunisada, president of Daiwa Research Institute, outlined some major projects that are currently under way, including the development of Osaka Bay, Osaka’s bid for the 2008 Olympics and the 2001 opening of Universal Studios Japan.

Many speakers also called for bureaucratic decentralization and a smaller political system more responsive to local needs. Masafumi Ohnishi, chairman of the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, noted that a new political and economic system rooted in the traditions and norms of Japanese society must be created if Japan is to face the challenges of the next century.

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