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Japan should abolish — rather than ease — a number of existing regulations if it wants to become more competitive and support a positive economic situation, Glen S. Fukushima, the new president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, said Friday.”Although ‘deregulation’ is often translated into Japanese as ‘kisei kanwa,’ or easing regulations, we believe that ‘kisei teppai,’ abolishing regulations, … captures more accurately the actions taken in the United States, the U.K., New Zealand, and elsewhere that have brought about positive results from competition,” he said.Fukushima, who is also vice president of AT&T Japan Ltd., assumed the ACCJ’s top post on Jan. 1. Speaking at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, he said deregulation efforts are usually seen in Japan as a way to enhance the international competitiveness of Japanese firms.”We hope that Japan will focus on benefits not only to producers but to consumers as well,” he said. “We hope that kisei kanwa will not only provide new business opportunities for Japanese firms but also create market-opening opportunities for foreign, including American, firms.”In the short term, the trade surplus with the U.S. will remain sizable or increase further due to a range of factors; Japanese companies’ eagerness to export to the U.S. amid the shrinking purchasing capacity of the Asian market, the weaker yen, and American consumers’ willingness to spend, Fukushima said.”I think it is potentially a problem bilaterally in that this a Congressional election year in the United States and there are those who would like to focus on this issue,” he said. In the long-term however, Fukushima said a reduction in bilateral balance is possible, perhaps, over a period of 10 to 20 years, if “conscious efforts” are made.

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