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Monday, Sept. 24, 2007

Osaka looking for a local economic fix


Staff writer

Some people in Osaka called Sunday on Yasuo Fukuda to take effective policies to revitalize the local economy when he becomes prime minister this week.

In the days leading up to his election as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, local government leaders and corporate executives appeared to be leaning toward Taro Aso, who they believed would more strongly support the economic reforms of Shinzo Abe and Junichiro Koizumi.

But Fukuda, who has called for greater financial support for ailing rural areas, won the race and is now being asked to stay the course.

"The current economic expansion is due to the vigorous efforts of the private sector," Atsushi Kojima, cochairman of the Kansai Association of Corporate Executives, said in a prepared statement. "The LDP must not stray from the path of structural form."

Some ordinary citizens in Osaka indicated they expect Fukuda to do more to address the growing income disparity between urban and local areas, because the policies of Koizumi and Abe are leaving people behind.

"Although I don't think there is any difference (in the basic economic policies) of Fukuda and Aso, Fukuda has a better understanding of the problems of reform and the need for a social safety net, especially for those who have not prospered over the past few years," said Noriyuki Shimada, 39, who works for a department store.

Chieko Mizushima, 34, a self-employed Web site designer in Osaka, said she is interested in how Fukuda will handle such issues as the pension record fiasco and the income gap.

"Fukuda has indicated that constitutional reform will not be a major issue for his administration. And I think most people in Osaka are more interested in how Fukuda handles the pension issue, a possible increase in the consumption tax, and the growing income disparity gap," she said.



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