A fund designed to make it easier to collect money for festivals is just one of 652 proposals the government has received from municipalities for the soon-to-be-launched special deregulatory zones, Kazuyoshi Kaneko, minister in charge of revitalizing local economies, said Tuesday.

The government wants to launch some of the proposed programs in the fiscal year beginning in April 2005, Kaneko said, adding that it will consider allocating money and revising laws for the programs.

Special deregulatory zones are aimed at boosting regional economies by giving preferential treatment to program operators.

The plans in question include one by the city of Fukuoka to establish a fund for festivals and another by the city of Higashiosaka to set up a subsidy system for companies wanting to make new products.

Fukuoka’s plan will make it easier to collect more money from the private sector. The city wants to revitalize the local economy by using the money mainly for the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival.

With local business partners, including the chamber of commerce and industry, the city of Higashiosaka said its subsidy system would pave the way for companies to use funds with almost no restrictions in the development of innovative products.

The government plans to choose programs that do not require state funding by the end of this year and those that need state support in early 2005, said Kaneko, who is also responsible for structural reform programs.

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