• Kyodo

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Japan and the United States unveiled a report Tuesday concerning deregulation measures being undertaken by both countries in key areas, including the telecommunications and information technology sectors.

The report, presented to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush at their meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, was the first of its kind issued under the Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative.

Koizumi and Bush met before the start of the two-day annual summit of the Group of Eight major powers at the Rocky Mountain resort.

The deregulation initiative is part of the Economic Partnership for Growth, which was launched last June by Bush and Koizumi to promote sustainable growth in both countries and throughout the world.

Including reports issued under the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, this represented the fifth deregulation report for the two countries.

In the latest report, the U.S. expressed hope that Japan will promote deregulation under its newly adopted economic and fiscal policy package.

“The government of the United States notes recent discussions in Japan to establish structural/regulatory reform zones and looks forward to exchanging views with the government of Japan on this issue as developments unfold,” the report says.

The report was referring to special structural reform zones mentioned in a list of policy pledges adopted earlier this week by Koizumi’s Cabinet. Regulations in these zones would be drastically eased or abolished.

Regarding deregulation measures within the Japanese telecommunications sector, where the U.S. is seeking cuts in interconnection rates, Japan simply listed the measures it has taken thus far.

The report says Tokyo will decide on new fixed-phone interconnection rates to be charged by NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp., the two regional telephone operators of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., after receiving recommendations from the Telecommunications Council, a governmental advisory panel.

“The government of Japan will exchange views with the government of the United States no later than October 2002 on implementation of the interconnection rates” for fiscal 2002, it says.

The report adds that the interconnection rates charged by NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest cellular phone company, have dropped significantly over the last five years.

The U.S. has called on Japan to substantially reduce the interconnection rates charged by both the NTT regional telephone carriers and NTT DoCoMo.

On information technology, the report says Japan will continue regulatory reforms to further promote the growth and development of e-commerce.

The two countries reaffirmed their cooperation to promote education through the Internet, supporting the use of e-commerce technologies and ensuring information security.

Regarding competition policy, the report spells out measures taken by Japan to strengthen the functions of the Fair Trade Commission.

The report also says the Japanese government will make the status of the antimonopoly watchdog “more appropriate from the viewpoint of independence and neutrality from the regulatory authorities.”

To facilitate mergers and acquisitions, the Japanese government will launch a study before the end of fiscal 2002 on the introduction of different kinds of mergers, including triangular mergers and cash mergers, it says.

In the report, the U.S. added that it will ensure that its antidumping laws conform to its obligations under the World Trade Organization.

Japan has complained that a series of antidumping measures taken by the U.S. against imports of Japanese steel products are inconsistent with WTO rules.


Highlights of deregulation report

Following are highlights of a deregulation report submitted Tuesday to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush in Kananaskis, Alberta:

* The United States looks forward to exchanging views with Japan on the idea of special structural reform zones.

* Japan will exchange views with the U.S. no later than October on the implementation of new fixed-phone interconnection rates.

* Japan will continue deregulating the information technology sector to further promote growth and development of “e-commerce.”

* Japan and the U.S. will cooperate in “e-education,” the promotion of e-commerce technologies and information security.

* Japan’s governmental Electricity Industry Committee will finalize a report on deregulation in the electricity market by the end of fiscal 2002.

* Japan will review the status of the Fair Trade Commission to ensure its independence and neutrality from regulatory authorities.

* Japan will launch a study by the end of fiscal 2002 on the introduction of merger and acquisition techniques, including triangular corporate mergers and cash mergers.

* The U.S. will ensure that its antidumping laws conform to its World Trade Organization obligations.

* The U.S. will continue to discuss with Japan problems stemming from state-level regulations in U.S. deregulation of the telecommunications and energy sectors.

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