A government panel established a working group Wednesday to encourage deregulation measures in 12 key areas.
Orix Corp. Chairman Yoshihiko Miyauchi, who heads the Council for Deregulatory Reform, said the 15-member panel will compile a report on its discussions in June.
The group’s formation came after Miyauchi last month proposed a two-year program to implement the deregulation plan.
The proposal was made during a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, a key government economic panel headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who endorsed the plan.
The 12 deregulation ideas include allowing stock companies to operate farms, expanding the classifications of temporary workers to include medical doctors and nurses and increasing the maximum ratio of floor space to land area for high-rise housing units.
“We decided to put all 15 council members on the list of the working group to show our serious commitment to the matter,” Miyauchi said.
The working group is expected to hold meetings once a week, but Miyauchi admitted that the 12 reform plans will probably not be achieved at once.
Following the panel meeting, the working group held its first meeting to discuss the sales of medical drugs at pharmacies.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry reiterated its opposition to allowing sales of medicines at supermarkets or other retailers, saying these products must be treated solely by pharmacists because they contain deleterious substances.
Council members argued that the current system should be deregulated so people can buy nonprescription drugs at convenience stores at night or in emergencies.
Miyauchi said the ministry even wants to ban supermarkets from selling mouthwash. “Such opposition,” he said, “shows how thick the wall of vested interests is.”
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