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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi denied Monday he has reached an agreement with the head of the Japan Medical Association on allowing medical business stock companies to engage only in high-tech areas under proposed deregulation.

“I did not make such a promise,” Koizumi said in reference to reported comments by Eitaka Tsuboi, president of the medical association.

A major point of contention has been whether stock companies will be allowed to run hospitals and other medical institutions.

Tsuboi reportedly said Koizumi assured him in February that medical businesses that stock companies would be limited to areas of advanced technology.

Health minister Chikara Sakaguchi said last week it was also his understanding that such an agreement was reached.

Based on the agreement, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will consider allowing stock companies to launch medical businesses limited to the fields under the government’s special deregulated zones, Sakaguchi said.

Special economic zones minister Yoshitada Konoike has criticized Koizumi for reportedly imposing the condition.

Koizumi said Monday he has instructed Konoike to engage in further negotiations with the various parties.

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

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

The deregulation includes allowing private-sector companies to launch English-conversation classes in elementary and junior high schools, and corporations to engage in agriculture on leased farmland.

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

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