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The government is tackling the urgent tasks of revitalizing local economies and reducing the gap between prosperous urban regions and economically weak rural regions. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has established a “rural regions revitalization headquarters,” serving as its head; all the Cabinet ministers will serve as members. The headquarters is expected to formulate an effective strategy by overcoming financial difficulties and inter-ministry rivalries.

Many rural regions lacking strong local industries have been impoverished by the Koizumi administration’s reduction of public works programs under the policy of structural reform. Many shops in rural city centers have been forced to close following the opening of large suburban retail shops. The government’s rice field reduction policy also has weakened agricultural regions.

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