The law aims to promote socioeconomic structural reform and the revitalization of the regional areas, in fields such as education, distribution, agriculture, social welfare, and research and development, through the establishment of special zones for structural reform that respect as much as possible the initiatives of the local public bodies.
1 Basic Policy on the Special Zones for Structural Reform
For the law's purpose stated above, the Basic Policy on the Special Zones for Structural Reform shall be decided by the Cabinet in regards to matters such as basic policies concerning measures to be taken by the Government, basic points concerning approval of plans for the special zones for structural reform, and the plan concerning the measures to be taken by the Government.
2 Plan for the Special Zones for Structural Reform
(1) Local public bodies (municipalities, prefectures and other bodies) are allowed, individually or jointly, to make a plan concerning the scope of the special zones for structural reform, preferential regulatory measures and the details of projects to which preferential measures are applied, and are allowed to apply to the Prime Minister for approval of the plan.
- Those trying to implement a project that is subject to application of the special regulatory measures can make proposals to local public bodies about the preparation of the plan. In the event that a draft plan based on the proposals is not created, a reason shall be provided.
- Upon applying for approval, local public bodies are allowed to seek confirmation of the interpretation of laws and ordinances related to the regulations, from the heads of the relevant governmental agencies. The heads of the relevant governmental agencies have to respond promptly.
(2) If the Prime Minister decides that the plan conforms to the standards determined by the Basic Policy and other criteria, the Prime Minister shall approve the plan. In this case, it is necessary to get the agreement of the heads of the relevant governmental agencies concerning individual regulations.
(3) The heads of the relevant governmental agencies shall agree to the application of preferential regulatory measures if the items concerning preferential regulatory measures conform to the conditions provided in the government ordinances or ministerial ordinances in line with this Law or the Basic Policy. (Local public bodies shall be primarily responsible for deciding on the necessity of preferential regulatory measures and their conformity to the requirements, the heads of the relevant governmental agencies shall in principle approve it as long as it conforms to the requirements.)
(4) When the Prime Minster has approved the plan, preferential regulatory measures shall be applied to the projects included in the plan.
(5) The Prime Minister may withdraw approval for the plan if it ceases to conform to the standards during implementation.
(6) The heads of the relevant governmental agencies shall carry out regular surveys of the application of the preferential regulatory measures and take necessary measures based on the opinions of persons concerned in local public bodies and others.
3 Preferential Regulatory Measures
The details of possible preferential regulatory measures in special zones for structural reform shall be decided by government ordinance or ministerial ordinance in line with this Law and the Basic Policy.
In addition, in regard to the instructions or notifications issued by the heads of the relevant governmental agencies, necessary measures shall be taken based on the provisions in the Law.
NB: In the program decided on October 11, 2002, it was outlined that upon creating a plan for ministerial ordinances and notifications, each government ministry and agency would consult with the Cabinet Secretariat for necessary coordination.
4 The Headquarters for the Promotion of Special Zones for Structural Reform
In order to achieve focused and integrated implementation of the measures necessary for promotion of structural reform, the Headquarters for the Promotion of Special Zones for Structural Reform shall be established within the Cabinet, with the Prime Minister as the Chief of the Headquarters, and all of the Ministers of State as members. The Headquarters shall carry out the Basic Policy and other measures.
The Law shall come into force on the day it is announced. However, provisions concerned with approval of the Plan for the Special Zones for Structural Reform and the preferential measures of the Law shall come into force on April 1, 2003.
List of relevant laws and preferential regulatory measures allowed in the special zones
- School Education Law
Relaxing the age limit for entering kindergarten to include the school year in which the child becomes three years old
- Employment Security Law
Implementing no-charging employment placement services based on notifications by the heads of prefectural farmers training and educational facilities
- Law Concerning the Share of Salaries of Municipal School Personnel
Establishing a system for the appointment of teachers and other school personnel whose salaries are paid with municipal funds, by the municipal boards of education
- Port and Harbor Law
Making it possible for ports and harbors facilities, which are administrative assets, to be lent to the private sector
- Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act
Expanding the range of activities that are possible for foreigners with resident status in Japan, and extending the residency period for foreign academics in Japan
- Agricultural Land Law
Allowing corporations other than agricultural production corporations to begin to participate in the agricultural sector
- Customs Law
Reviewing the overtime service fee, which is the fee charged for customs services provided outside normal hours
- Welfare Law for the Elderly
Allowing corporations to establish and manage special nursing homes for the elderly by using a system under which the public sector builds facilities and the private sector manages their operations or by using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) system
- Social Insurance Labor Consultants Law
Adding the conclusion, amendment and cancellation of labor contracts to the services of social insurance labor consultants
- Telecommunications Business Law
In the case local public bodies only provide wholesale telecommunications services, granting business licenses to local public bodies on a notification basis, and exempting wholesale telecommunications service contracts from notification
- Research Exchange Promotion Law
Expanding the low-cost use of experimental and research facilities and sites of national universities and others by private companies
- Law on Special Provisions of the Agricultural Land Law Concerning Specific Agricultural Land Lending
Expanding the right to establish allotments with specific agricultural land lending to those who are neither local public bodies nor agricultural cooperatives
- Large-Scale Retail Stores Location Law
Simplifying the procedures for establishing and remodeling large-scale retail stores in order to revitalize inner city areas
- Alcohol Business Law
Where alcohol is being manufactured using recyclable resources, allowing distribution management based on the Alcohol Business Law to be avoided (The loosening of the exclusive buying, selling and transferring control by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization)