It could have been an odd combination: Financial Ministry officials — who are often criticized for mismanaged economic policy — and the nation’s leading entrepreneurs like Softbank Corp.’s Masayoshi Son — who don’t want government intervention.

But in a very rare, informal discussion organized Friday, the two groups apparently hit it off and agreed on the need for freer competition and fewer subsidies. “The point is motivation,” Nobutaka Murao, a ministry budget examiner, told reporters. “Government action (for private businesses) is meaningless unless it is targeted at well-motivated people.”

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