Council for the Promotion of Regulatory Reform, April 2004 - December 2006

Promoting regulatory reform and private-sector participation is a keystone of the Government's structural reform program, which is inspired by the principle that the private sector should be left to do the job wherever it has the requisite capabilities. Over the past decade more than 6,000 regulatory reforms have been implemented. During that period the main target of reform has shifted from regulations on industrial activity to those in areas more closely connected to the lives of ordinary Japanese. In the process one task has assumed special importance: opening up areas where the government has until now provided services directly, and markets that the public sector has largely dominated, to the private sector.

Most of the challenges that still remain to be tackled have one thing in common. They involve abandoning the old approach, whereby the government decides in advance who is to supply what goods and services and at what price, in favor of a new approach that gives consumers and users a genuine choice by fostering free, fair competition among players from both the public and private sectors, and by fully disclosing information. Creating such a free, fair, transparent competitive environment is the role that government must now play.

With that goal in mind, two bodies are currently working in close coordination to spearhead the cause of regulatory reform and private-sector participation: the Council for the Promotion of Regulatory Reform, an advisory body to the Prime Minister, and the Headquarters for the Promotion of Regulatory Reform which is headed by the Prime Minister and made up of the full Cabinet.