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[Columns]Foundations of prosperity

Kansai has thus attracted wide attention both at home and abroad in several ways.We must take advantage of the valuable experience gained this year to lay the foundations of prosperity for generations to come.First, we must strive to build a model city that combines the aspirations of urban life: "safety," "convenience" and "comfort."To do this, we have to remember that as many as 5,500 precious lives were lost in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.We must recover from this "disaster of historic proportions" and dedicate ourselves to reconstructing our region as a monument to history, so that such a tragedy does not befall us again.Moreover, we must use the experience as a springboard toward making the region a model of urban development for the 21st century.Second, we must strengthen our policies to foster and support small and medium-size entrepreneurial ventures.These dynamic firms should lead the drive to reinvigorate the region.For this to happen, we must nurture innovative financial institutions firmly rooted in Kansai and create a true partnership between industry, government and academia to support smaller enterprises and stimulate the creation of new businesses.We must then create an environment in which such firms can compete freely, thereby providing the basis for developing new industries for the next generation.