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OSAKA — Local governments and business organizations in Kansai and surrounding areas set up a joint council Wednesday to revitalize the regional economy.

“I would like the council to help enhance the power of autonomy in the region,” said Yasuo Shingu, adviser to the Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren), in his inaugural speech as representative director of the Kansai Council. “I hope the council would be a model case for local autonomy in the coming century,” he said.

The council, made up of seven business organizations, nine prefectural governments and three municipal governments in Kansai and its vicinity, plans to conduct joint research and integrate similar projects currently conducted individually by business groups and local governments.

The meeting approved a 79.4 million yen budget for the year, and decided that seven projects in such fields as culture and tourism, the environment, science and technology, information transmission and disaster prevention will be taken up by the council’s committees in fiscal 1999.

For programs covering environmental issues, for instance, the council will promote “green purchasing,” in which businesses and local governments take the initiative in purchasing products that are environmentally friendly.

While all members of the council admitted the necessity of strengthening cooperation between and among businesses and local governments, Kazuo Inamori, chairman of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it should tackle things that cannot be done by any existing organization, rather than just integrate and coordinate various projects.

Local government officials and employees from businesses have been sent to the council’s secretariat in a bid to narrow the differences in their philosophies and roles.

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