• Kyodo

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The United States on Monday asked Japan for cuts in interconnection rates charged by NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest cellular phone company, a Japanese official said.

The request was made at a working-level meeting under the Japan-U.S. Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative, part of the Japan-U.S. Economic Partnership for Growth launched last June by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President George W. Bush.

The U.S. insisted there is room for NTT DoCoMo to lower its interconnection rates, but Japan replied that the rates charged by the cell phone operator are cheap compared with rates in other industrialized countries, the official said.

In its Section 1377 annual report released in April on foreign compliance with telecommunications trade agreements, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said interconnection rates charged by mobile phone operators in Japan and Europe are “above cost.”

The U.S. also called on Japan to cut fixed-phone interconnection rates charged by NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp., the two regional telephone operators of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., the official said.

Monday’s working-level telecommunications meeting is the second of its kind and followed the first round of talks held in December in Tokyo.

The results of the telecommunications talks will be included in a deregulation report to be submitted to Koizumi and Bush in June.

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