Japan to push its position on ports

Despite U.S. dissatisfaction with an interim agreement on Japan’s port practices between the Transport Ministry and three related industry groups, the Japanese government will try to make Washington understand the significance of the agreement and Japan’s position, Transport Minister Makoto Koga said Mar. 21. Koga was responding to a senior U.S. official’s reported criticism that the interim report will only delay a resolution of the fundamental issues of Japan’s harbor services.

In a bid to avoid U.S. sanctions against Japanese shipping firms threatened to be put into effect in April, the Japan Harbor Transportation Association, the Japanese Shipowners’ Association, the Japan Foreign Steamship Association and the Transport Ministry earlier this week reached the interim agreement to simplify cargo-handling procedures and establish a forum to seek a final agreement by the end of July. “The interim agreement is not the final one, and we know that there are things we must review, and that we must work further to solve the issues,” Koga told reporters after a regular Cabinet meeting.

He said the ministry plans to send one of its senior officials to negotiations set for early April to explain the contents of the agreement.