The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will organize a private group of publishers and producers of music, movies, games and other software in June to deal with rampant piracy in China, South Korea and Taiwan, METI officials said.

The government also plans to hold a three-way meeting in China on the issue with its Chinese and South Korean counterparts in October.

Industry organizations like the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan and publisher Shogakukan Inc., which have an obvious interest in protecting the copyright on its popular Pokemon character for example, are expected to take part, the METI officials said.

METI recently launched a government-business forum to tackle the issue of protecting Japan’s intellectual property rights in Asia, but recently decided it was necessary to set up a related group dedicated purely to dealing with software piracy, given the rapid expansion of broadband networks that make it easy to download software from the Internet, the officials said.

The group will enable members to exchange information with each other via e-mail and submit requests for action to the authorities, as well as conduct research and hold overseas seminars. METI will act as the secretariat, they said.

It will likely hold its first seminar in October in China, along with a planned three-way governmental meeting, as an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of Japan-China diplomatic ties, they said.

It also eyes calling on local subsidiaries, licensees and other business partners to set up their own bodies to protect themselves from potential copyright piracy losses from piracy.

Illicit products like videotape copies of Japanese television dramas and compact discs featuring Japanese music are widespread in China and the rest of Asia, with Chinese authorities estimating 90 percent of the items on the market are unauthorized, the officials said.

But government bodies in the region have become increasingly cooperative with Japanese efforts to root out piracy, particularly following the accession by China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization, they said.

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