(HARA Eiji, PPPC President)
With regard to the National Strategic Special Zones, meetings of the “Regional Committee” were held consecutively in the “Kansai” and “Fukuoka” zones last week (September 24, 25).
Those who attended the meetings include the new minister-in-charge Shigeru Ishiba, along with the relevant governors and mayors, and the author myself as a member of the NSSZ working group. Through the meetings, it was strongly recognized that the framework of the regional committee itself must be enhanced.
The regional committee was created as quasi-independent mini-government in the Zones composed of the central government (minister), local government (mayor/governor) and private sector. The committees were launched one after the other after selection of the six zones in spring, and entered full-dress discussions since this June. Still, it seems that the committees haven’t functioned in their full capacity yet.
Especially in the Kansai zone, it was sometimes observed that representatives of the central government, local governments and private sector haven’t shared their views on the topics adequately and discussions fell as far apart.
As it was discussed in the meetings, in order to make the committees function fully as an independent mini-government, it requires a firm, full-time secretariat; no way that they gather once a month to hold meetings (it doesn’t mean to establish a new bureaucratic organ but to create a common secretariat by attracting personnel from the central or relevant local government).
On a related note, it was widely reported that the Osaka City assembly rejected proposal of NSSZ-related ordinance and suspended its project (to utilize housing apartment to hotel businesses by allowing exceptions of the Hotel Business Act).
On this project, while it was proposed that the minimum days of staying (7-10days) of target exceptional measures would be arranged by the ordinance, it was questioned from the view of neighboring residents in the discussion process and led to rejection of the ordinance. As the result, the NSSZ-relevant project itself was suspended.
Set aside the political situation of Osaka City that any proposals by the mayor besides the NSSZ-related ordinance face difficulties passing the assembly, the issue relates with the essential nature of the NSSZ design.
The NSSZ is designed as a framework to implement regulatory reform measures experimentally in the local boundary, and the reform measures are to be provided in the NSSZ Act as reform menu; and in each zones the central government, local government and private sector implement the reforms altogether.
The incident in Osaka means that a local government denied the regulatory reform menu discussed and approved in the national Diet. However, such a situation that assemblies of the central and local governments respectively discusses the regulatory reform menus one after another may contradict with the goal of the NSSZ to implement regulatory reform experiments in a speedy manner.
While enhancing the framework of the regional committee, roles of the national Diet, local government and regional committees need to be further clarified in line with the purpose and aim of the NSSZ.
In the autumn’s extraordinary Diet session, it is scheduled that a revised NSSZ Act will be submitted to arrange the additional regulatory-reform menu (foreign worker’s visa, privately-managed public schools, etc., which were entailed in the revised growth strategy in June). Meanwhile, the NSSZ faces the challenge of enhancing the framework of the regional committees to realize effective regulatory reforms.