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2014年9月17日 (水)

創生本部初会合 若者が働ける「地方」を作ろう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Revitalizing local areas crucial to lure young people away from Tokyo
創生本部初会合 若者が働ける「地方」を作ろう

To enhance the vigor of regional areas, it is essential to create a social environment allowing young people to more easily find work, get married, give birth and raise children.

The government held an inaugural meeting of the headquarters for regional vitalization Friday to discuss measures such as dealing with population decline and invigorating regional areas. The headquarters will supervise the compilation of measures for “town-building, local residents and job creation.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads the headquarters, said during the meeting the government “will come up with an extraordinary drastic policy.”

To reduce the excess concentration of people and industry in Tokyo, those at the meeting agreed, among other things, to establish regional centers and create jobs as measures to attract young people to regional areas.

It was also confirmed that the vertically segmented administrative system would be eliminated and the Cabinet ministers and bureaucrats concerned would actively visit regional areas.

To cope with declining populations in local areas, the movement of people into Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures must be halted, particularly in regard to young people, and a new demographic shift from Tokyo must be created. To this end, it is indispensable to ensure the availability of jobs and a living environment whereby young people can move to, and settle in, local areas.

The headquarters will work out a long-term vision this year to ensure the national population of at least 100 million 50 years hence and an overall strategy for a five-year period starting next fiscal year. Some projects are scheduled to be reflected in budgetary requests for fiscal 2015.

Centerpiece of growth strategy

The Abe administration regards regional revitalization as a new centerpiece of its growth strategy. In the upcoming extraordinary Diet session, the government will seek to enact relevant bills, including one for regional revitalization that would define the roles to be played by central and local governments in carrying out relevant policies.

Abe has directed Shigeru Ishiba, state minister in charge of overcoming population decline and vitalizing local economy, to “carry out policies effectively in an integrated manner without taking a handout approach.” This is an important point of view.

In their budgetary requests for the next fiscal year, government ministries and agencies competed with each other in listing projects in the name of “local vitalization.” It stood out that there were projects that have similar contents and are the same as conventional public works projects. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, for one, requested a budget even for the expansion of Shinkansen bullet train lines.

It is imperative to examine the effects of the proposed policies and concentrate budgets on the implementation of policies on a priority basis. We hope that Ishiba will display his ability as a coordinator.

The crucial point is for the government to have frequent constructive dialogues with the private sector and local governments, and adopt frontline ideas positively.

The government has decided to establish a 12-member expert panel including former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Hiroya Masuda, who has been warning of the possible disappearance of some local communities due to sharp population declines. The experts will give the government advice in connection with the compilation of a long-term policy vision.

Various proposals were offered by the experts during an exchange of opinions at a meeting with Abe late last month. They included the establishment of a human resources agency to spur the employment of skilled personnel in local areas as well as a center to assist with migration to local communities, moving corporate head office functions to local areas and increasing local recruitment.

Such ideas must be steadily molded into concrete policies.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 15, 2014) Speech


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