The Japan Times Ltd., publisher of the English-language daily, held a forum on Tuesday to kick off a consortium it established last month to support the revitalization of regional economies.

The Tokyo-based news company's project, advocating so-called Satoyama Capitalism, will promote the use of the unique natural resources of Japanese rural communities, many of which are struggling with a lack of new growth drivers and a graying population.

"It is crucial for local governments to link people in different fields so as to help create wider business opportunities," Takashi Mitachi, a business consultant at Boston Consulting Group, said at the forum attended by local government officials and experts.

Tadashi Matsushima, who runs a marmalade company on the island town of Suo-Oshima in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, explained during his presentation how his firm and local officials have worked together to turn the area's orange farming into a new preserve industry.

As part of efforts to revitalize his community, Matsushima said his company has also hired senior citizens and handicapped people.

The Japan Times Satoyama Consortium plans to provide information on various growth-spurring initiatives by individuals, local governments and companies through articles to be published in the country's oldest English daily and on its website.