A key law aimed at helping munipalities devastated by the March earthquake and tsunmi was enacted Wednesday, almost nine months after the calamity struck.
Considered by the government as a core piece of its disaster recovery effort, the legisslation covers 222 municipalities in 11 prefectures and allows them to be designated as special zones for tax breaks, deregulation and subsidies.
The central pillar of the law is a drastic relaxation of zoning. For example, farms can be rezoned as residential properties. Also, food processing and other facilities that help promote the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries can be built on farmland.
The tax breaks include a five-year waiver of corporate taxes for businesses that set up operations in the disaster areas.
The government is to hold a meeting of the committee on rebuilding measures later this month to finalize the basic guidelines for the reconstruction zones. This expected to be approved by the cabnet early next year.