June 13, 2014 10:12 am JST

Gov't panel proposes deregulation measures for growth strategy

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A government panel tasked with regulatory reform on Friday came up with some 230 deregulation measures with the aim of revving up Japan's economy through medical, employment and farm reforms.

     The proposals submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be reflected in the government's new growth strategy to be compiled on June 27.

     In its recommendations, the Council for Regulatory Reform headed by Motoyuki Oka, adviser to Sumitomo Corp., stressed the importance of reforms that would give people more options.

     In the medical sector, the panel called for an expanded system of medical treatment combining insured and uninsured services based on patients' requests.

     Japan has permitted a total of 94 uninsured advanced medical treatments to be combined with insured treatments, mainly for research purposes.

     The proposed deregulation seeks to allow patients to receive such advanced treatments within some two weeks of requesting them. It also aims to increase the number of medical institutions where such treatments are available.

     For cases using unapproved drugs, the panel called for shortening the approval time to about six weeks from six to seven months at present.

     As employment-related deregulation measures, the panel proposed promotion of a merit-based pay system under the so-called white collar exemption system, which makes it possible for employers to pay some workers not for how long they work but for what they achieve.

     It also called for the introduction of a system that obliges companies to ensure that workers take all their holidays.

     In the farm sector, the panel urged stepped-up efforts to reform Japan's agriculture over the coming five years.

     It called for an overhaul of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, the umbrella organization for agricultural cooperatives around the country, known as JA-Zenchu, so that local cooperatives would be allowed to run their business more freely.

     The council also proposed transforming the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, known as JA Zen-noh, into a stock company in the future. JA Zen-noh markets the agricultural products of its cooperatives.

     In addition, the council said the restriction on private firms' ownership in agricultural corporations should be eased to less than 50 percent of their voting power from up to 25 percent at present to encourage newcomers.