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 Introduction to MITI

Since the establishment of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in 1949, from a reorganization of the former Ministry of Commerce and Industry, MITI has played a central role in the development of policies on industry and international trade, through the implementation of many measures under its jurisdiction. Responding to changes in social and business requirements, MITI has made efforts to attain a more affluent society and improve the quality of life in Japan.

MITI activities cover a wide range of industrial fields, including basic industries (steel, new chemical materials, bio-industries, etc.), machinery and information industries (electronic equipment, robots, industrial machinery, automobiles, aircraft, information processing, etc.), and consumer goods industries (textiles, ceramics, household goods, housing materials, services, etc.). In addition, affairs related to foreign trade and investment, advanced technologies, environmental protection and industrial location, energy, and patents are among MITI responsibilities.

In coordinating the policies of a broad range of fields, the organization of MITI is grid like. Cross-sector issues such as trade policy, industrial policy, and environmental protection policy is administered "horizontally" for industry as a whole. Whereas, sector-specific issues for basic industries, machinery and information industries, and consumer goods industries are administrated "vertically" by fully considering the situations of each of these industries. In addition, agencies and attached organizations such as the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, Patent Office, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, and the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology are responsible for their designated tasks in harmony with MITI policies. Within MITI, close coordination between the different bureaus ensures a broad perspective on domestic and international economic policies and careful attention to individual industries.

At the present time, MITI strategy has focused on two areas, "Economic Structure Reform" and "Revitalizing the Japanese Economy". In 1996, the Japanese Cabinet approved a "Program for Economic Structure Reform", and MITI has played a central role in promoting and enhancing that program. At the same time, MITI has coordinated policy measures toward revitalizing the Japanese economy through demand-side and supply-side measures. In January 1999, the Japanese Cabinet approved a "Strategy for Revitalizing the Japanese Economy", that outlines the necessary steps toward the reform of the supply-side of the Japanese economy.

MITI is also responsible for Japan's multi-lateral international trading system, and for support for Asia during its economic recovery. MITI believes that "a revitalized Asia means a revitalized Japan", and that international trade policy should be based on "rules"and not just on "results".

Following the reorganization of Japan's Central Government that will commence in the year 2001, MITI will be transformed into MITIE (Provisional Translation, "Ministry of International Trade, Industry, and Economy) with all of the tasks mentioned above. MITI will continue in its endeavor to better grasp domestic and international issues and to formulate and implement positive and flexible policies for coping with future problems.

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