Business

U.S. seeks talks before 'kampo' decision made

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States hopes to hold bilateral insurance talks with Japan before a key government panel reaches a conclusion this fall on the privatization of the state-run “kampo” life insurance services, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.

“We’re hoping to have face-to-face meetings with our Japanese counterparts,” Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said. “We hope as a government to regularly advise the government of Japan and the CEFP of our views and we’re hoping to have bilateral insurance consultations before the report is issued.”

She was referring to the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, chaired by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The council has basically agreed that Japan Post, a public corporation in charge of mail delivery, postal savings and life insurance services, should be privatized in five to 10 years, beginning in 2007. It will issue a final recommendation report on the privatization process in the fall.

Cutler also said that the United States will use the upcoming Japan-U.S. Subcabinet Economic Dialogue meeting to discuss reform of the kampo insurance system and to have U.S. opinions reflected in the panel’s final privatization report.

“My view is that this would be a very appropriate and timely issue for the Subcabinet Economic Dialogue if indeed this does take place in the coming weeks,” she said.

The subcabinet-level meeting of economic officials from the two countries is scheduled to take place this summer. It is a key component of the Economic Partnership for Growth initiative launched in 2001 by Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush.

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