Local business leaders attend a JCP symposium to revitalize local economy

Gifu City is known for its fashion industry along with Tokyo and Osaka. The apparel business in the city has been the mainstay of the local economy. However, this indigenous industry has been faltering in recent years due to a slump in personal spending and a jump in imports of cheap products from abroad.

On February 16, the local Japanese Communist Party organized a symposium to discuss ways to revitalize the local economy. This gathering, in which 200 leaders of the city's apparel business participated, gained considerable attention from the local business world and was covered by a local paper.

In preparation for the symposium, the JCP Gifu Prefectural Committee and the JCP Gifu District Committee visited more than 400 firms door to door among area wholesalers to learn of their difficulties and demands.

The JCP local committees' survey shows that business owners are seeking support for cultivating a market, improving design and patterning abilities, and developing new materials. Many also answered that they want an expansion of the loan system. Among other outstanding requests were a restriction on imported products from abroad, a cut in the consumption tax rate, and relief from the burden of national health insurance premiums.

JCP House of Representative member Sasaki Kensho, a panelist of the symposium, argued that the government should use more of its budget to support smaller businesses, stop promoting harsh collection of loans and end reluctance to lend money, and change the present policy to that in which consumers' purchasing power will be enhanced. Sasaki, stressing the need to reform the production structure of the apparel industry and cultivate human resources, proposed the establishment of training schools appropriate to today's fashion world.

Even after the symposium was over, participants stayed in the hall to exchange business cards and talk. It seemed that a new momentum for cooperation and relations between the industry's leaders and the JCP was created.

An executive of the Gifu fashion industry association said he was surprised at so many business people coming to the JCP-sponsored symposium. Another company president said, "We should promote our industry regardless of our personal political affiliation." (end)

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