Osamu Watanabe, vice minister for international trade and industry, on July 28 criticized Washington for going too far in its attack on the Fair Trade Commission.

Watanabe’s remark was in reference to last week’s comment by the U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky in her reaction to the FTC’s recent report on Japan’s photographic film and paper market. In a statement released here last July 24, Barshefsky said the FTC “has yet to develop into the type of strong and independent agency capable of effectively dealing with (informal market access barriers).”

The openness of the Japanese photographic film and paper market has been subject to consideration by the World Trade Organization since June last year, following criticism from Washington that Tokyo was allowing anticompetitive business practices by Fuji Photo Film Co., which was hampering foreign competition in the Japanese market.

The FTC report, which is not directly linked to the WTO proceedings, found no illegalities in Fuji Photo Film’s business practices. Speaking at a regular news conference, Watanabe said, “We welcome various arguments, including refutation, concerning the contents of one investigation result.”

However, he said, Barshefsky’s comments concerning the FTC’s competence as an independent agency had touched upon the foundation of the nation’s administrative practices, and had gone too far. “I would like to add that the FTC is an organization which has the strong trust of the Japanese people,” he said.

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