• Kyodo

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The transport ministry and Kansai International Airport Co. may appoint Atsushi Murayama, vice president of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., as president of the airport operator, sources said Wednesday.

If appointed, Murayama, 64, would become the first private-sector president of the semigovernmental Kansai International Airport. The previous chiefs have been former ministry officials.

Murayama would succeed the current president, Kiyoyasu Mikanagi, 68, whose term expires in June.

The appointment, however, may not be a smooth affair, as differences have apparently surfaced within the Kansai business community, which was asked to come up with a candidate, the sources said.

The airport has experienced a difficult management environment amid a passenger decline triggered in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The airport also has interest-bearing debts of 1 trillion yen.

Against this backdrop, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, which is looking at fully privatizing the airport company, has felt a need to deploy private-sector techniques to prop up its operations.

Murayama, who has considerable labor management experience, became vice president of Matsushita in June 2000 and proceeded to cut about 13,000 Matsushita group jobs.

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