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The Japan External Trade Organization released a report Thursday urging that the nation do more to remove hurdles for foreign companies.

The report focuses on the state of market access in Japan in private finance initiative projects.

PFI projects involve the construction and management of public facilities and industrial infrastructure with private-sector finance to help the cash-strapped national and local governments implement public works projects.

The report says conditions for participating in bidding are restrictive in Japan, while those in the United States and in European countries are more open.

For example, Britain allows any company to participate in bidding, and France takes into account bidders’ past overseas experience, the report says.

In contrast, Japan does not count overseas experience, and companies must be registered as first-class builders to take part in bidding for PFI projects, it says.

The report says unpublicized scheduled bidding prices exist in Japan, and such a system is not in place in Britain, France, Germany or the U.S.

Transparency in the bid-examining process is insufficiently enforced in Japan, the report says, adding that in France, fair-trade authorities help ensure impartiality.

The report also covers the issue of e-commerce in the fields of home appliances and computer-related products, education, and digital content such as films and music.

The report concludes there are no legal frameworks hindering foreign or domestic companies’ participation in transactions in the three fields.

There are, however, some unsolved issues in Japan, including introduction of a standard data-exchange system in e-commerce, it says.

It calls for deregulation and financial assistance to improve the education environment, saying Japanese colleges do not accept credits earned through courses provided via the Internet, though the number of educational institutions offering such courses is increasing.

JETRO is an affiliate of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Foreign fund focus

The government will establish an interministry team by the end of the month to boost foreign investment in Japan, vice trade minister Seiji Murata said Thursday.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Murata to set up the team of senior working-level officials from relevant ministries, including the Cabinet Office, Murata said.

The government hopes more foreign investment will help to improve domestic technologies and employment.

The team will flesh out essential measures based on proposals by each ministry, according to Murata.

In January, Koizumi told the Diet that his administration aims to double the amount of foreign investment in five years to help revitalize the nation’s sagging economy.

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