Japan and the United States plan to resume bilateral deregulation talks in Tokyo on July 10 in a last-ditch effort to resolve their telecommunications row before July’s Group of Eight summit in Okinawa, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.
The two sides will hold working-level talks to be followed by discussions on the vice-ministerial level, the official said.
Japan is expected to explain domestic developments, such as the performance of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.’s two regional carriers, since the previous round of bilateral negotiations collapsed in March, the official said.
Japan and the U.S. are at odds over cuts to the fees that NTT charges its competitors to use its networks.
Japan has proposed cutting NTT’s access charges by 22.5 percent over four years, but the U.S. has insisted on deeper cuts over a shorter period.
At the previous vice-ministerial talks, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Yoshiji Nogami and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Richard Fisher failed to make progress.
Meanwhile, Jiji Press has reported that Japan plans to propose an 18 percent cut in NTT’s access charges in two years in the next round of negotiations.
The U.S. has set a July 28 deadline on deciding whether to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the issue.
Japanese politicians have also hinted that Tokyo is prepared to make concessions to resolve the issue.
Hiromu Nonaka, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, called on NTT last week to quickly reduce interconnection fees, suggesting it fund the cut by unloading part of its stockholdings in its rapidly growing subsidiary NTT DoCoMo Inc.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Eita Yashiro said late last month that Japan will examine the possibility of making a bigger cut in the access fees because of better-than-expected profits at NTT’s regional carriers.
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp. posted a combined pretax profit of 13.7 billion yen for the business year ending March 31, despite initially projecting a combined 41 billion yen loss.
NTT President Junichiro Miyazu, meanwhile, has called for easing the law governing NTT’s operations to resolve the telecom row.
Revising the law to allow NTT’s two regional carriers to offer new services, such as Internet and cellular phone services, could break the impasse as increased profits would enable the two to cut access charges, Miyazu said.
Vice Posts and Telecommunications Minister Masahito Tani, however, said that there was not enough time to discuss the issue before the bilateral deregulation talks.
Plug pulled in U.S.
NEW YORK (Kyodo) Japan Telecom Co. plans to withdraw from the telephone service business for individual subscribers in the United States, company officials said Monday.
The halt to the retail phone service business in the U.S. is designed to bolster the cost-efficiency of its U.S. subsidiary, Japan Telecom America Inc., the officials said.
Individual subscribers to the carrier’s phone services will not be disadvantaged, because Japan Telecom will hand over the entire retail service business to Airnex Communications Inc., a California-based international and long-distance call carrier, they said.
Japan Telecom America will sell its 51 percent equity stake in Airnex to the U.S. company. The sale will help Japan Telecom America concentrate on data transmission and phone services for large-lot corporate users, the officials said.
Since 1998, Japan Telecom America has provided Asia-bound international phone services for businesses and foreign students in the U.S.
Japan Telecom entered a broad-based tieup arrangement with Concert — a joint global telecom venture of British Telecommunications PLC and AT&T Corp. — in March.