Japan repeated its request July 1 that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission grant licenses to two leading telecommunications firms to operate international services based in the United States.

Hisao Horinouchi, minister for posts and telecommunications, urged FCC Chairman Reed Hundt to quickly solve the problem, hopefully before he leaves the commission’s top post, a ministry official told reporters. Although his term runs through August 31, 1998, Hundt had earlier expressed his intention to leave the commission as soon as his successor is found.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and KDD, Japan’s largest domestic and international telecommunications operators, have been applying to the FCC for licenses to set up U.S.-based international operations. The FCC normally grants such licenses 35 days after the applications are received. NTT and KDD — which respectively fielded applications in January and February — have yet to be granted such a license due to what Washington describes as “trade concerns.”

The U.S. has been demanding that Japan remove restrictions on foreign ownership of NTT and KDD, and that the 1994 NTT Procurement Agreement be extended after it expires on Sept. 30. The Japanese side has criticized the U.S. for “taking hostage” the two firms’ applications as a way to push those demands.

“It is unfair that NTT and KDD are not allowed to provide international services in the U.S., whereas both AT&T and MCI have been doing so in Japan,” Akemi Yamaguchi, vice minister for international affairs at the ministry, was quoted as saying during a meeting with Hundt. Hundt responded that the U.S. side is willing to discuss the issues of foreign ownership in the two Japanese firms and the NTT procurement agreement, according to the Japanese official.

He was also quoted as telling the minister that the FCC is required by U.S. law to wait for a solution between the U.S. and Japanese governments before granting licenses to NTT and KDD. He said he hopes to see the U.S. and Japanese governments work out some kind of compromise before long, according to the ministry official.

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