• Kyodo

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In a rare move, the government plans to ask private companies to use their creativity and resources to discover “hidden” specialty products across the country and turn them into hit products.

A council will be put together by the end of this month to link municipalities with around 20 companies in the convenience store, advertising and Internet industries, a government source said Sunday. It is rare for the government to serve as a public-private bridge.

In a series of monthly meetings, villages, towns and other local governments can present their homegrown specialties to the companies on the council, who will advise them on how to enhance the products’ commercial appeal.

The council will also be a forum for municipalities to discuss their comprehensive strategies for revitalizing regional economies, which are expected to be compiled by the end of March 2016.

“If we can make use of flexible thinking in the private sector, it may be possible to export specialty products from regional areas to other countries,” the source said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made rejuvenating rural economies a priority. In a policy speech in September, he cited a locally brewed beer made with water from Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture, and curry made with sazae (turban shells) in Shimane Prefecture, as successful examples of regional products that have become widely popular.

He also mentioned the city of Nemuro, Hokkaido, for its success in exporting saury to Vietnam.

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