• Kyodo

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The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly agreed Tuesday to send a letter to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi adamantly calling for Okinawa Cellular Telephone Co. to be exempt from regulations on “dominant” mobile phone operators, despite its dominant share in the prefecture, assembly officials said.

The assembly unanimously reached the agreement ahead of a decision today by the Telecommunications Council, an advisory panel to the telecommunications minister, on whether Okinawa Cellular and nine companies in the NTT DoCoMo Inc. group should be deemed “dominant.”

The council is set to make its decision in line with a revision in the Telecommunications Business Law, under which a mobile phone operator with a market share of 25 percent or more is identified as dominant and subject to some business restrictions.

Naha-based Okinawa Cellular, which operates solely in Okinawa Prefecture, has a 49 percent share of that market, but its share nationwide is 0.5 percent.

The prefectural assembly decided to send a letter emphasizing that Okinawa Cellular’s nationwide share is only 0.5 percent and that a bill being deliberated in the Diet on development in Okinawa aims to actively promote the telecom industry in the prefecture, the officials said.

The letter will express worries that classifying Okinawa Cellular as dominant would not only hurt the company’s operations, but also create a big loss for the prefecture.

A spokesman at Okinawa Cellular has said the company, which is part of the KDDI Corp. group, is concerned it would not be able to continue a discount service on its package using KDDI’s fixed Myline telephone service.

Koji Omi, state minister in charge of Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, said he will call for keeping Okinawa Cellular free from restrictions.

“The company is not in a position to wield dominant power,” Omi said. “To name it (as a dominant company) would be against the spirit of the Antimonopoly Act and the Telecommunications Business Law.”

Omi criticized the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications for deliberating on whether to identify Okinawa Cellular as a dominant company.

“The mentality of the bureaucrats of the former postal ministry to impose regulations is the biggest cancer of the Japanese economy,” he said.

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