Hiromu Nonaka, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, called on NTT Corp. Monday to quickly reduce the interconnection fees it charges other carriers to access its network.
Nonaka suggested at a news conference at the party’s headquarters that NTT should fund the cut by unloading a large chunk of its holdings in its fast-growing subsidiary NTT DoCoMo Inc.
The government has divulged a plan urging NTT to cut the levies by 22.5 percent over the next four years to enable telecom carriers to offer less expensive Internet connections and other services to computer users in Japan.
Nonaka, however, said he wants that cut to come sooner.
“Although NTT at present holds a 67 percent equity stake in NTT DoCoMo as its holding company,” Nonaka said, “it would be advisable to unload a part of the stake and cut it to some 51 percent.”
He made the remarks only four days after U.S. President Bill Clinton urged Japan to conduct faster and deeper cuts in NTT fees, in a meeting in Tokyo with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. Clinton was in Tokyo to attend the funeral of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
During their meeting, Tokyo and Washington remained at loggerheads over the size and timing of the proposed cuts.
Nonaka also told reporters, “I have long doubted whether the government’s current holdings of one-third of NTT’s shares is consistent with pushing for the privatization of NTT, which it (partially) privatized” more than a decade ago.
Nonaka said the government will ask policy experts to mull how to unload the remaining NTT shares the government still holds and the issue of what status the telecom behemoth should be given in connection with the planned sale of the publicly held shares.