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The Japan-U.S. Business Conference ended Tuesday, with business leaders from the two nations adopting a statement urging a “substantial and prompt reduction in interconnection rates” charged by the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. group.

Mitsubishi Corp. Chairman Minoru Makihara and AT&T Chairman and CEO Michael Armstrong, who jointly chaired the three-day event in Tokyo, were to submit the statement to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori later in the day.

The conference coincided with the ongoing deregulation talks between U.S. and Japanese government officials, who are locking horns in Tokyo over how much NTT’s access charges should be lowered to promote competition in Japan’s telecommunications network market.

Armstrong said that he hopes the business leaders’ proposal would motivate both the Japanese and U.S. governments to become more serious about negotiating an agreement to benefit both consumers and businesses.

The U.S. government is demanding a deeper cut in the access charges than the Japanese government is proposing.

The 16-point statement also urged the two governments to continue their joint efforts under the U.S.-Japan Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy, which started in 1997.

To deal with the globalization of world economies and electronic commerce, the statement called for quickly updating the 1971 U.S.-Japan Tax Treaty, hopefully before the end of March 2002.

The annual conference, which was held for the 37th time this year, took up the issues of dumping and sanctions for the first time. But the U.S. and Japanese sides failed to reach an agreement due to differences in their definitions of dumping, said Kikkoman Corp. President and CEO Yuzaburo Mogi, who co-chaired a small group session on manufacturing.

The Japanese side defines dumping as pricing goods irrationally lower than actual costs, whereas the U.S. side insists dumping is when exporters offer prices that harm competitors in the importing nation, Mogi explained.

On economic recovery in Japan, participants agreed fundamental structural reforms should be undertaken as soon as possible to ensure that a self-sustaining, consumer demand-led recovery takes hold, the statement says.

As a major force driving economic recovery, it points out that the public and private sectors should promote information technology and venture businesses.

Focusing on the development of information technology, the statement calls for more cooperation between governments and the private sector to ensure the security of cyberspace transactions as the Internet is a global medium without national boundaries.

On the U.S. economy, participants expressed hope that the U.S. authorities will continue to implement appropriate policies to avoid concerns regarding the possibility of a “hard landing,” according to the statement.

The joint statement also mentions agreements such as cooperating in tackling credit card fraud and making efforts to increase slots for business aircraft in the Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture.

NTT revision moved up

The government will move up its schedule for revising the law regulating the structure and operation of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. group, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Kozo Hirabayashi said Tuesday.

The minister told a news conference that he wants to ask his advisory panel to study the best possible structure of the NTT group this month, rather than in September as he earlier planned.

“We need to speed up (procedures for reviewing the NTT law) as much as possible,” he said.

“If we can finish (internal clerical works), I’d like to (commission the panel) within this month.”

The minister had earlier said that he would commission the Telecommunications Council to study the NTT issue “after the summer vacation ends.”