Health minister Chikara Sakaguchi indicated Tuesday his ministry will consider allowing stock companies to set up businesses focusing on advanced medical fields under the government’s proposals on special deregulated zones.

Sakaguchi said he will call for stock companies to be granted access to the medical field “within the boundaries” of advanced medical technology.

“When Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Japan Medical Association President Eitaka Tsuboi spoke to each other (in February), I heard they talked about advanced medical treatment” being handled by stock companies under the deregulation plan, Sakaguchi said. “The issue has already been settled.”

The special deregulation zones to be created are part of Koizumi’s drive to push through structural reforms.

The government has approved a total of 117 special economic zones, subject to preferential deregulatory treatment. There were 60 cases approved in late May and another 57 in late April.

The zones include those in which English conversation education will commence at elementary and junior high schools, and zones in which corporations will be allowed to engage in agriculture on leased farmland.

The government plans to approve the third set of zones late this month.

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