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Gov't eyes making quake-hit cities 'special zones' for reconstruction

TOKYO, March 30 — The government is eyeing designating municipalities devastated by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami as ''reconstruction special zones'' to facilitate their reconstruction through deregulation and preferential tax treatment, government sources said Tuesday.

The government is seeking to enact a new law for the creation of the special zones, which will cover a wide range of municipalities on the Pacific coast, the sources said.

Regulations that hamper reconstruction efforts will be eased in the special zones, they said.

The Diet is currently deliberating a bill to create ''comprehensive special zones,'' which is aimed at revitalizing local areas.

The government regards establishing reconstruction special zones as more desirable than utilizing comprehensive special zones as devastated municipalities will be able to receive expanded special treatment under a new framework.

Following the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the Hyogo prefectural government called for establishing special economic zones to promote reconstruction.

But the proposal did not materialize due to reluctance by the central government.

The Hyogo prefectural government proposed on March 22 to the central government to utilize comprehensive special zones for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake. (PNA/Kyodo)

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