The Patent Office should have greater authority, trade chief Shinji Sato said June 3, indirectly opposing the idea of turning it into an independent agency.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry is to voice its opinions June 4 on proposed organizational changes under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s administrative reform initiatives. Hashimoto’s blue-ribbon panel has been calling for turning some central government entities into British-style agencies as a way to streamline government.

The Patent Office, which is currently part of MITI, is regarded as one candidate for such change. The ministry, however, has been cool to the idea.

Speaking at a regular news conference June 3, Sato pointed out that the definition of an agency remains unclear. “Apart from the question of whether the Patent Office should remain a part of the MITI, we might as well provide more power to the Patent Office. And we must avoid, by any means, the situation in which the authority of the Patent Office is reduced,” he said.

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