The United States denounced Japan’s Fair Trade Commission on July 23 following the release of a survey that found no illegal business practices by Fuji Photo Film Co. in the Japanese market.

In a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky criticized the FTC for its failure to sufficiently address “significant distribution problems that exist” in the Japanese photographic film and paper industry. “The exclusionary distribution system established by the government of Japan to thwart foreign competition remains in place,” she said.

The statement says the FTC’s report is “weak and woefully insufficient” in encouraging the enforcement of the Antimonopoly Law and reinforces Washington’s reluctance to rely on the Japanese antitrust watchdog to address informal market access barriers faced. “While the Japanese government has sought to strengthen the JFTC over the past several years, it clearly has yet to develop into the type of strong and independent agency capable of effectively dealing with these issues,” she said.

Eastman Kodak Co. of the U.S. also dismissed the FTC’s claim that the Japanese film market is open to foreign competition. “The handling of this report demonstrates how the Japanese government shields domestic industries from competition,” Chris Padilla, Kodak’s director for international trade relations, said in a statement released here. “This is exactly what one would expect from the JFTC. It’s a whitewash.”

Japan welcomed the FTC’s latest findings. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry said the report further supported the Japanese government’s arguments in the ongoing film dispute with the U.S. Ministry officials said that although the FTC’s survey is not linked to ongoing proceedings under the World Trade Organization, it makes clear that the nation’s film market is open to foreign competition. Fuji said the report clearly demonstrates that there are no market-access barriers or other structural anticompetitive problems in the Japanese film market.

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