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The government plans to approve the creation of 48 special economic zones, including a plan by the Ashikaga city office in Tochigi Prefecture to offer English education at elementary schools, officials said Thursday.

It is the second round of approvals to go through, and the government is expected to issue related certificates to local authorities by the end of August, the officials said.

The 48 special economic zones will be subject to looser regulations.

Applications to create the zones were accepted in July. A total of 49 plans were submitted, but one was withdrawn due to lack of preparation.

The government will accept applications for a third round in October.