OSAKA — Including American firms in the construction of Olympic facilities in Osaka and at the site of Kobe airport will help, not hurt, local economies, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Foley said here Thursday.

Speaking to a group of elected officials from Kobe and Osaka, as well as Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, the ambassador said that if local governments offered U.S. firms the opportunity to help with public works projects, it could alleviate public controversy over their cost.

“American firms can provide more cost-effective materials and service that could lead to more public support and less controversy,” he said.

Previously, both Osaka Mayor Takafumi Isomura and Kobe Mayor Kazutoshi Sasayama, when asked about U.S. firms participating in local public works projects, ducked the question. Isomura said Osaka was exploring a variety of ways to promote internationalization, while Sasayama said many ideas should be considered for the construction of the airport.

Some U.S. firms have shown an interest in Kobe airport, including San Francisco-Bechtel Corp., which visited Kobe earlier this year to explore business opportunities.

Foley and other U.S. government officials have expressed disappointment with a lack of an open bidding process for local construction work on the Universal Studios Japan project.

In addition to Olympic-related facilities and USJ, the U.S. also wants the chance to participate in the second-phase of construction at Kansai International Airport.

Early next month, U.S. Consul General Robert Ludan will lead a group of about 20 U.S. construction firms visiting the Kansai region in search of access to Olympic facilities and USJ, Foley said.

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