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The Ministry of Transport plans to dispatch officials to the European Union and the United States later this month to explain Japan’s new fuel-efficiency standards on automobiles, Vice Transport Minister Masahiko Kurono said Monday.

The EU and the U.S. oppose the tighter fuel-efficiency standards, which they claim will hinder sales of foreign automobiles in the Japanese market and constitute nontariff trade barriers against foreign vehicles.

Under the revised standards scheduled to take effect April 1, all automakers are required to improve fuel efficiency by 22.8 percent by the end of fiscal 2010, compared with the fiscal 1995 level.

“It is ridiculous (to say) that we adopt the new standards to prevent foreign cars from being sold in the country. I believe that, if we explain our purpose, we will be able to obtain their understanding,” Kurono told a regular press conference.

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