Japan needs to promote joint projects between the government and the private sector to strengthen its industrial technology, government and business leaders agreed Thursday at a state panel on beefing up industrial competitiveness.

At the fourth meeting of the Competitiveness Commission, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi asked business leaders to make concrete proposals at next month’s meeting on what the private sector can do to nurture prospective markets for the future, such as those pertaining to the elderly, natural environment, biotechnology and information technology.

He also urged them to offer ideas on what kind of support the government should provide.

“We will try to include the proposals we have received so far in the government package to be announced June 11 to tackle the unemployment problem and to increase Japan’s industrial competitiveness,” Obuchi told the meeting.

Until last month, the panel’s discussions had focused on ways to ease the corporate burden festering since the collapse of the asset-inflated bubble economy. It has so far proposed measures such as tax incentives for disposing of excess facilities and promoting real estate transactions.

But from now on, the panel will emphasize future-oriented economic trends, such as promoting technological development and nurturing new businesses, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said after the meeting.

During Thursday’s meeting, the business leaders stressed that the prime minister must take initiatives in promoting joint projects by the government and private sector and in allocating more funds to such projects.

They said cooperation and joint efforts between government ministries and agencies are also necessary for such budget allocations and actual promotion of the projects.

Businesspeople also said cooperation between the private sector and universities must be strengthened to enable more technology transfers from college research institutes to the business sector.

The panel also discussed the need to build infrastructure that is environmentally friendly, friendly to the elderly as well as efficient.

Some members also asked Justice Minister Takao Jinnouchi to accelerate the speed of Diet deliberations on revising the Commercial Code to enable more mergers and acquisitions as well as reorganization efforts by corporations.

Due to the heated debate on controversial bills to allow wiretapping in investigations into organized crime, the Diet debate on revising the Commercial Code is far behind schedule in the current Diet session.

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