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The Cabinet Approved the Bill on the Act on the Partial Amendment of the Act on Vitalization in City CentersAiming to create intensive support systems for vitalizing city centers

On February 12, 2014, the Cabinet approved the Bill on the Act for the Partial Amendment of the Act on Vitalization in City Center. In response, the bill is to be submitted to the Diet during the 186th regular session.

The bill aims to create new systems under which selected private-sector projects with positive economic effects are to be intensively supported, aiming to further revitalize city centers.

Outline of the revision

As Japan is facing the continuing falling birth rate and aging of the population as well as the transfer of public facilities, including commercial facilities and hospitals, to suburbs, the depopulation of city centers is becoming more common, with no signs of an end to store vacancies or increasing amounts of unused land. To address this situation, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decided to carry out the following measures, aiming to vitalize such city centers by stimulating private investment in such communities, in line with the goal for “realizing a compact city,” stipulated in the Japan Revitalization Strategy.

1. Creation of a new intensive support system to stimulate private investment

  1. METI will create a new system, titled “Projects by specific private-sectors to improve economic vitalization of city centers,” under which private-sector projects are selected based on the criteria of whether or not the projects are highly effective for city centers to a specific, minimum extent, including their effectiveness in increasing the number of visitors and workers as well as enhancing the profits of retailers in such city centers, and the METI Minister will approve the selected projects.
  2. The following measures will be implemented to support the approved projects:
    • When a municipality provides a loan to the approved private entity that organizes a project, the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, JAPAN (SME Support, Japan) will provide the loan to cover the amount, to the municipality; and
    • When a regional council or municipality wishes to invite a large-scale retailer to its community, METI will simplify the procedures required for establishing the retailer, stipulated under the Act on the Measures by Large-Scale Retail Stores for Preservation of Living Environment, including an exemption from the requirement of holding a briefing session.
  • Note:

    METI will implement the following support measures along with legal support measures:

    • Subsidizing such approved private entities in order to directly support them;
    • Applying tax-break measures to such entities, including an additional depreciation deduction system and reducing the registration license tax when they buy buildings and facilities; and
    • Implementing a lower-interest loan for entities involved in the maintenance of such facilities and tenants.

2. Improvement of the measures for revitalizing city centers

  1. METI will also create another system to support projects for vitalizing private entities’ commercial activities in city centers from the viewpoint of services and know-how, under which METI will support city centers in boosting the number of customers in the retail industry and in making retail management more efficient, with the approval of the METI Minister. The approved projects are able to enjoy cooperation from SME Support, Japan, in terms of the provision of service information based on the organization’s knowledge on the support measures for SMEs.
  2. METI will create the following special provisions concerning rules and regulations for approved plans submitted by private entities:
    • Special provision for permitting outdoor cafes and restaurants to occupy roads when such entities attempt to establish such shops; and
    • Creating a special system for qualified interpreter-guides, under which such interpreters are permitted to provide their services only in city centers in each community.
  3. METI will create a new system under which the Japanese government can answer inquiries from municipalities concerning interpretation of regulations when they wish to formulate a basic plan.

Release Date

February 12, 2014

Division in Charge

Office for City Center Vitalization, Distribution and Industrial Safety Policy Group

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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