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The government is thinking of lifting a restriction on timber as a building material for three-story schools to help revive the sluggish forestry industry by allowing timber to be used in public facilities, officials said Monday.

Tough fire safety regulations have prevented wooden three-story school buildings from being made since the Building Standards Law took effect in 1950, but revisions appear to be in sight after the government ditched its no-wood policy for construction of low-rise public facilities last October.

While the new policy focuses on one- to two-story buildings, local governments willing to help boost their economies with forestry have called for deregulation because three-story school buildings, now mostly made with ferroconcrete, are a major source of construction work.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry plans to revise building standards and possibly the law itself after verifying the safety of those wooden structures in fiscal 2011 starting in April.

The ministry will spend up to ¥450 million fire-testing a full-size building through a private company or a research institution selected through a public bid.

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