The government on Thursday unveiled a package of structural reforms, including frontloading some proposed revisions to the Commercial Code.

Some of the industrial revitalization steps, which were announced during a meeting of an advisory panel to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, will be included in economic stimulus measures that will go into effect later this month.

During the day’s meeting of the government-private sector industrial reform panel, which consists of Cabinet ministers and business leaders, discussions focused on matters pertaining to corporate laws, employment and the environment. Mori pledged to carry out the proposed measures.

“We will do our utmost to realize the proposed measures (for structural reforms) and, at the same time, we will have (the measures) reflected in an economic stimulus package to be compiled on (Oct.) 19,” Mori told the meeting, held at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka told the panel the Commercial Code would be revised so that companies can better employ information technology in organizing their general shareholders’ meetings, according to trade chief Takeo Hiranuma.

Yasuoka also said the Justice Ministry would alter the Commercial Code to ease restrictions on stock options, Hiranuma said.

The changes would be presented to the Diet sometime next year, government officials said.

If enacted, beginning in 2002 companies will be able to use the Internet rather than postal service for procedures such as notifying shareholders of meetings, while the meetings themselves could be conducted on the Net.

At present, the Commercial Code only allows firms to use up to 10 percent of all outstanding shares for their stock option plans, and the options can only be offered to employees and directors of parent firms, not subsidiaries.

The ministry plans to draw up more fundamental revisions to the code by the 2002 ordinary Diet session.

On the nation’s pension system, the government will make efforts to introduce a defined-contribution pension system as soon as possible, while working on legislation for a portable pension system, Hiranuma said.

To cope with economic changes caused by IT, the government wants about half of the country’s smaller firms to be able to use the Internet for their business by the end of fiscal 2003.

The government also aims to create the financial infrastructure for companies to raise funds effectively. To this end, the government will submit bills to the next Diet session in January to enable companies to issue commercial paper in a paperless way.

The government will also clarify and publicize by year’s end the fact that job-seekers and employment agencies will no longer be required to interact face-to-face, and that the job-mediation business will be allowed via the Internet.

The government will also promote the creation of an information network linking public employment security offices with private job-search companies to make things easier for job-seekers.

During Thursday’s meeting, panel members from the private sector also touched on waste-handling, recycling and accounting system issues.

Takashi Imai, chairman of the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), proposed the creation of an organ under the direct control of Mori to promote administrative reforms and decontrols at the central and local government level.

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