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Gov’t to approve 21 local revitalization projects with an eye on spring unified local elections

  • 2015-01-20 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: January 20, 2015 – p. 4)

 

 The government will on Jan. 22 endorse 21 local revitalization projects submitted by municipalities. The approval will become the first case since revisions to local revitalization legislation were enacted during an extraordinary Diet session held last autumn. It expects these projects to serve as a model for local authorities’ initiative to breathe life into their regions.

 

 The government has earmarked a two-tier, local revitalization subsidy program in a supplementary budgetary bill for fiscal 2014. About 5 billion yen will be provided to municipalities to implement local revitalization programs approved by the government.

 

 Other aid, which amounts to 420 billion yen, does not restrict usage and is aimed at supporting initiatives that will rejuvenate local economies over a long period of time. For example, local authorities can use the funding to issue premium shopping vouchers, which allow users to shop above par value, extend job support and encourage outsiders to settle in their communities.

 

 The government has been encouraging local authorities to come up with revitalization programs to spread its push for boosting local economies across the country. The 21 projects have been submitted for approval by four prefectures, 16 cities and four provinces, which set forth in their applications measures to stem depopulation and specific projects to invigorate their communities. The government will urge all of these municipalities to draw up five-year growth strategies based on their revitalization programs.

 

 The city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, for example, included in its revitalization program a project to build a fresh food market to attract tourists. It had been losing population even before the Great East Japan Earthquake. To stem the outflow of people, it has also set a goal of increasing the number of residents in downtown by 40% within six years.

 

 The old mining town of Shimokawa in Hokkaido has submitted for approval a project to build a biomass-powered facility to supply electricity and heat. The city has been losing an average of 40 people a year since the shutdown of a coal mine, which was long the backbone of its industry. It hopes to use the project to help stem the outflow and maintain a population size of 3,500.

 

 The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has performed poorly in gubernatorial elections held since last year. The candidates it fielded in Shiga in July, Okinawa in November and Saga on Jan. 11 were all defeated. The government has been stepping up its local revitalization push to broaden support in areas that have yet to feel the benefits of “Abenomics” economic stimulus. (Slightly abridged)

 

 Schedules for local revitalization projects

Jan. 22

Approve the first batch of local revitalization projects; use them as model projects to breathe life into local economies

Early February?

FY14 supplementary budget bill to be enacted

 

-> Start providing subsidies for local revitalization programs for implementation

 

-> Set up a new subsidy program that local authorities can tap into at their discretion; extend financial support to help local economies rebuild themselves

Early April?

FY15 budget bill to be enacted

 

-> Implement government-sponsored programs to stimulate local universities and help those who go into farming for the first time

April 12, 26

Local election ballots

Within FY15

Local authorities will draw up comprehensive growth strategies to stem depopulation

 Local revitalization programs submitted by:

 Four prefectures: Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Mie

 16 cities: Ishinomaki (Miyagi), Aizu-wakamatsu (Fukushima), Saijo (Ehime), Hitoyoshi (Kumamoto), Yubari(Hokkaido), Mitsuke (Niigata), Toyama (Toyama), Nanto (Toyama), Shiojiri (Nagano), Hamamatsu (Shizuoka), Toba (Mie), Miyazu (Kyoto), Kyotango (Kyoto), Tomioka (Hyogo), Maniwa (Okayama), Kumamoto (Kumamoto)

 Four towns, villages: Shimokawa (Hokkaido), Shitara (Aichi), Toei (Aichi), Toyone (Aichi)

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