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Govt to revise law for strategic special zones

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government plans to submit to the current Diet session a bill to revise the National Strategic Special Zones Law with the aim of implementing its Super City Initiative (see below), The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The initiative introduces new special zones for utilizing artificial intelligence and big data.

According to the outline of the bill, local governments will be authorized to set up their own regulations or be exempt from national regulations, as long as local residents agree and the central government approves.

The government will formally adopt the bill at a Cabinet meeting this month after approval by the Council on National Strategic Special Zones — chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and comprised of Cabinet ministers and experts — as early as Wednesday. The government aims to have the bill enacted during the current ordinary Diet session.

Specifically, regulations would be introduced within special zones that will enable local governments to set up ordinances for the following activities: deliveries using drones or unmanned transportation methods, cashless payment, remote education and remote health care via the internet.

The government has judged that the current framework of national strategic special zones or coordination with government ministries and agencies would not allow to effectively carry out the initiative.

According to the bill’s outline, a special zone council including as members a local government head, business operators and the minister in charge of national strategic special zones, will compile a project plan and submit it to the prime minister. The prime minister will then instruct relevant ministers in charge of the regulations to determine whether the special measures are appropriate.

Since it is an advance initiative, the revised law will include stipulations that allow the ministries that administer the regulations to suspend the special measures at their own discretion.

Government approval of the special measures will be made on the condition that local residents agree with them, via approval by a local assembly or a referendum. In this regard, the government is considering setting up a Cabinet ordinance.

■ Super City Initiative

The Super City Initiative is an initiative to create a future city that realizes fundamental changes in how society functions by utilizing cutting-edge technologies. Local governments and some local areas would be subject to the initiative. The initiative would carry out policies in at least five out of 10 fields — including transportation, distribution, payment, medical and nursing care, education and energy — with the society of 2030 in mind. After the bill is enacted, the government will select several zones after soliciting public applications, aiming to realize supercities at an early date.Speech

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