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Senior Japanese and U.S. government officials ended a one-day teleconference Wednesday with an agreement to boost mutual direct foreign investment, officials said.

They agreed that direct foreign investment plays a key role in stimulating economic growth and will push ahead with measures to promote such invest- ment, including a series of investment seminars to be held in each country, they said.

The conference was cochaired by Tadakatsu Sano, vice minister for international affairs at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and U.S. Undersecretary of State Alan Larson.

During the meeting, Larson urged Japan’s government to take prompt action to allow U.S. businesses to fully engage in mergers and acquisitions.

“U.S. investment through such mergers can save jobs and reinvigorate Japanese companies, much as Japanese investment did in the United States in the 1980s,” Larson said in a statement issued after the meeting.

Larson also said U.S. businesses are keen to invest in the Japanese medical and education sectors and called on the government to remove barriers in these sectors, the officials said.

The two countries agreed to draft a report on direct foreign investment in May, based on the day’s discussion and working-group meetings to be held in April.

The conference was a followup to an investment initiative established under the Economic Partnership for Growth launched by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President George W. Bush in 2001.

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