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European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy voiced concern Friday about Japan’s plan to allow Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. to raise the interconnection fees it charges other carriers to access its phone networks, Japanese trade officials said.

The European reaction came on the heels of strong U.S. opposition to the plan, which was announced Wednesday.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma meanwhile expressed concern about a possible new European regulation that would burden producers with the cost of safety examinations for chemical products, the officials said.

The two ministers met ahead of a three-day informal meeting in Tokyo of the World Trade Organization starting later Friday, in which trade and farm ministers from 22 selected parties to the 145-member WTO are scheduled to take part.

Lamy was quoted as telling Hiranuma that Brussels will keep a close watch on the NTT access-fee issue.

An advisory panel to the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry was to release a draft Friday of its plan to revise access fees charged by NTT’s two regional phone units — NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. — for fiscal 2003.

The measure will result in an increase in NTT charges as a whole.

Lamy also urged Tokyo to monitor whether Japanese airlines make a fair and commerce-based decision on whether to purchase Airbus or Boeing Co. aircraft, citing concerns that the carriers may bend in the face of strong U.S. pressure.

On the question of chemical products, Hiranuma sought to restrain EU discussions from leading to regulations that would impose too great a burden on the industrial sector, as that could affect Japanese exports.

Hiranuma also asked the EU to take part in the 2005 Aichi World Exposition.

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