The nation’s move toward deregulation is at a turning point and the government must continue easing regulations to “climb the next mountain,” says the deputy chairman of an Administrative Reform Committee branch.

In an interview with The Japan Times, Yoshihiko Miyauchi, deputy chairman of the deregulation branch of the government advisory committee, said that revisions of the government’s three-year deregulation plan announced last week show much improvement over the plans it had three to five years ago. “The deregulation that we aimed for was just like a high mountain that we thought we could never climb,” said Miyauchi, who is also president of Orix Corp. “Now we can reach the mountain’s peak, but we have just discovered that there is another mountain behind it,” he said, expressing his belief that the efforts must be continuous.

After the three-year deregulation program ends in fiscal 1997, he said the government should establish an organization like Miyauchi’s subcommittee, or an even stronger body, to continue monitoring the government’s program. “Deregulation is not something that we can completely achieve by a certain date … I hope that some kind of organization will be set up to allow our work to continue in the future,” he said.

Miyauchi welcomes the Finance Ministry’s move toward a “Big Bang” of financial reform, as well as the Transport Ministry’s decision to abolish the “demand and supply evaluation” system, which has long restricted the entrance of newcomers into the transportation market. But he said that efforts in such sectors as agriculture, education, telecommunications, and medical and social welfare need to be stepped up.

As for the telecommunications sector, he said the government must implement deregulation faster to create a truly competitive market. The government has decided to break up the giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. into one long-distance and two regional carriers, all under the wing of a single holding company. But Miyauchi’s subcommittee has expressed doubt as to whether a holding company system will ensure fair competition. “The current situation in the telecommunications industry is much like having a whale in a goldfish tank,” he said. “Although people say that the goldfish should be allowed to swim freely, the goldfish must be feeling that the whale should be taken out of the tank first.”

Miyauchi said that a driving force in deregulation is how people feel about implementation of the measures. “I don’t think our subcommittee’s opinions can change the philosophy of bureaucrats. … It is the trend of society and people in Japan that can change the country’s economic structure,” he said.

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