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KYOTO — The Kansai Economic Summit came to a close Friday amid calls for general changes in Japan’s economic, political and social structure, but little progress was made over the most pressing macroeconomic issues affecting the Kansai region.

“Once again, the Kansai Economic Summit was nothing more than a festival without substance,” a Kansai Association of Corporate Executives member said on condition of anonymity.

“Last year’s summit in Osaka saw a heated debate between Kobe and Osaka officials over the need for Kobe airport,” he said. “But (this year), despite massive problems with Kansai International Airport, Kobe Airport and severe structural problems with the Kansai economy, there was little true debate on how these problems could be addressed.”

At Friday’s session, the emphasis was on how to revitalize both Japan and the Kansai region politically and economically.

Gifu Gov. Taku Kajiwara, considered something of a reformist politician favoring greater autonomy for local governments, said the first step in revitalizing local governments is for people in power to have respect for those who are not.

“Both the political and business worlds must respect the consumers — or voters — and learn to listen more closely to their local needs,” Kajiwara said.

Eiko Oya, a noted commentator, said the fundamental problem preventing economic and social reform is the way equality is viewed in Japan.

“Equality means being equal at the beginning,” she said. “But in Japan, it is often thought that equality means all results should be the same. Until the importance of these differences is understood and accepted, revitalization will prove extremely difficult.”

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