The government and three major business associations will launch a partnership next month aimed at luring companies to areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tatsuo Hirano, state minister for reconstruction from the disaster, announced Tuesday.
The Reconstruction Agency will establish a new office on April 1 to promote the partnership with the business sector.
The office will consist of specialists from the three business associations--the Japan Business Federation, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
By taking advantage of expertise in the private sector, the agency aims at accelerating efforts to promote start-up businesses and help rebuild affected local industries, bringing jobs to the three prefectures hit hardest by the Great East Japan Earthquake, government officials said.
The three organizations will select from among their member companies more than 10 experts with experience in applying for local government projects to attract companies.
They will be hired as employees of their respective organizations before being dispatched to the Reconstruction Agency, according to the officials.
The experts will work as part-time national government employees at the agency's new office--which will be staffed by about 20 workers in total, the officials said.
The experts also will be dispatched to the agency's regional bureaus in the capitals of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.
They will serve as advisers, coordinating with local governments and firms interested in starting business in the affected region.
The experts also will advise local governments on how to attract such firms, according to the officials.
The government has been encouraging local governments in the disaster-hit areas to apply for the status of special economic zones for reconstruction, which are eligible for preferential treatment on taxes and regulations.
However, more and more companies have been leaving the areas, making it difficult for many local governments to encourage them to resume operations or attract start-up businesses.
Considering this, the agency's new office will also examine new deregulatory measures that will make it easier for the local governments to attract companies, based on advice from the experts dispatched from the private sector, according to the officials.
The agency also has been considering working with the Foreign Ministry and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry to hold seminars overseas to attract foreign enterprises to the disaster-stricken areas, the officials said.
"By taking advantage of expertise in the private sector, we'd like to help [local governments in the affected areas] attract industries that will play a key role in the nation's future, thereby making these areas a model for revitalizing Japan," a senior official at the Reconstruction Agency said.
To create jobs over an extended period, it will be important for the affected areas to promote new, promising industries--not only medical and nursing care, but also environmental technology, such as solar and other renewable energy, the official added.
In Miyagi Prefecture, at least 10 affected companies have halted or suspended their operations in the prefecture as of Feb. 6, by either closing their factories or moving offices elsewhere. Six firms relocated their production operations, according to the prefectural government.