The state minister in charge of science and technology on Monday unveiled a plan to create a panel of government and business leaders to help coordinate development efforts in biotechnology, science ministry officials said.

Japan needs to put the panel under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, as is the case with an information technology panel, said Koji Omi, in a meeting with executives of the recently inaugurated Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren).

The proposed panel, tentatively called the biotechnology strategy council, will devise comprehensive strategies for biotechnological innovations and push cooperation between the public and private sectors, the officials said.

Omi also called for commercializing the results of developments as part of efforts to help revitalize the economy.

“The most important task for Japan is to make itself strong in the fields of the economy, science and technology,” Omi was quoted by the officials as saying.

Council members will be appointed soon.

“The United States leads the world in the biotechnology field and European countries are planning to catch up . . . Japan also needs to devise a national strategy,” a Nippon Keidanren executive was quoted as saying.

The government and business community are considering developing pharmaceuticals based on biotechnology, putting rice genome technology to commercial use, and helping biotechnology-oriented venture businesses grow, the officials said.

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