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The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has officially removed surcharges it had imposed in 1997, but later suspended, on three Japanese maritime carriers, Transport Ministry officials said Monday.

In September 1997, the FMC launched a surcharge of $100,000 for each port call to the U.S. made by the three Japanese shipping lines in retaliation for what it claimed were unfavorable port practices that raise stevedoring costs at Japanese ports.

However, the FMC suspended the sanction two months later after Japan and the U.S. reached an agreement over the improvement of harbor practices in Japan. The three shipping lines — Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd.; Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.; and Nippon Yusen Kaisha — paid $1.5 million in surcharges to the FMC.

The FMC said it decided to lift the surcharge because of changes in the market and deregulation efforts taken by Japan, the officials said.

As a way to further monitor the situation, the FMC requires that the three carriers and two American shipping lines report on Japan’s harbor practices.

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