Deming urges immediate action of port dispute

U.S. Charge d’Affaires Rust Deming urged Japan on Jan. 17 to take immediate action to rectify port transportation practices the United States considers unfair to U.S. shipping companies, according to Foreign Ministry officials.In his meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Sadayuki Hayashi, Deming said he has not seen any tangible actions on the Japanese side since last week, when the two countries held talks on the issue. Washington will finish collecting public comment on the dispute Jan. 20, and will decide on the possibility of slapping sanctions on Japanese ships at U.S. ports.In retaliation for the Japanese practices, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission proposed in November to fine a Japanese liner $100,000 each time it enters a U.S. port. Three Japanese shipping lines — Nippon Yusen K.K., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. — are targeted by the proposed sanctions. Deming told Hayashi that Japan needs to take action to avert such sanctions.Hayashi expressed hope that the sanctions will not be imposed, adding that such a move may damage overall bilateral relations, according to the officials. The U.S., along with the European Union, has been complaining that Japan has discriminated against U.S. liners by refusing to license non-Japanese shipping companies to perform stevedoring services or to operate a terminal.