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Deregulation zone eyed for Tokyo Games
Publication Date : 14-09-2013
As Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, the government is considering designating Tokyo as a “national strategy special zone,” in which drastic deregulation measures will take place in designated areas, according to sources.
This would allow construction and improvement projects for Games-related athletic facilities, accommodations and roads created under the private finance initiative (PFI) to tap into private-sector funds and management know-how, the sources said.
Under the PFI system, the central and local governments entrust the construction of public facilities, as well as their management and operations, to private-sector companies. The operational rights to facilities would be sold to companies, in some cases.
Four outside council members, including Prof. Motoshige Ito of the University of Tokyo, were expected to propose the plan at a meeting on Friday of the government’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the sources said. The council is chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Under the proposal, the Tokyo Games are considered the “fourth arrow” in the Abe administration’s quiver of economic policies, called Abenomics.
The proposal states: “By making the Games the trigger to an explosive acceleration of economic globalisation, intensive construction and improvement of transport infrastructure, the nation’s international competitiveness capability will be dramatically strengthened.”
The Abe administration has designated “national strategy special zones” as a main point in its growth strategy. Under the current special zone system for deregulation, ministries and agencies coordinate for budget allocations.
However, for national strategy special zones, the “council on tokku special zones”—under the direct control of the prime minister—is envisaged to play a central role in deciding areas to be designated and projects to be implemented so that decision-making can be made boldly and quickly, the sources said.
The nongovernmental members of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy propose these measures proceed within three to four years and eventually be introduced nationwide by 2020.
The main part of the tokku special zone plan is the introduction of the PFI system in regards to the construction of facilities related to the Tokyo Games.
Currently, only certain institutions, such as the central and local governments, can undertake construction, maintenance and management of roads. If the PFI, which involves the private sector, is introduced in projects, including repairing the Metropolitan Expressway, they are expected to be implemented more efficiently.
Financial burdens shouldered by the government and others also would be reduced.
As the number of foreign tourists will likely increase with the Tokyo Games, the special zone is expected to help create an environment in which tourists from abroad could comfortably stay.
Also under consideration is the creation of a “medical special zone” to have better systems for international patients through such measures as allowing international doctors without Japanese medical licenses to provide medical treatment.
The government is also considering accelerating the “open sky” liberalisation process to make it easier for new flight routes to be launched or the number of flights to increase.
Other measures under the special zone plan include improvement in access from airports in the metropolitan area to central Tokyo and the boosting of convenience for international tourists regarding the use of free public wireless Local Area Network systems and payments with credit cards.