Local corporate turnaround committees have mapped out rehabilitation plans for three small and midsize companies, making them eligible for public support, industry minister Takeo Hiranuma said Friday.

“This is a small but significant step forward,” Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, told a news conference after a Cabinet meeting. “I want to express my respect to the people concerned.”

Two retailers in Fukui and Akita prefectures and a food manufacturer in Ibaraki Prefecture are the first companies for which these local committees have drawn up rehabilitation plans, Hiranuma said.

The committees are operating under the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, which operates under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

METI refused to disclose the names of the companies on the grounds they could lose the confidence of the public.

The three companies are expected to withdraw from business sectors that are deemed unprofitable or to shut down some outlets while pushing ahead with cost-cutting measures. As a result, 129 jobs will be protected.

METI proposed last fall launching local corporate rehabilitation committees — local versions of the Industrial Revitalization Corp. of Japan — in each prefecture.

These bodies have been established so far in 43 prefectures, and about 1,000 small and midsize companies are being consulted about the rehabilitation process, the ministry said.

The IRCJ was launched in April to handle rehabilitation plans for major companies.

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