WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick urged Japan on Thursday to ensure that “kampo” postal life insurance services will be put under the same regulations as its private-sector competitors in the process of privatizing state-run postal businesses.

He made the request during talks with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, saying “fair and open competition” is important in the privatization process, a Japanese official told reporters.

Machimura replied that the principle of fair competition is included in the government’s basic policy for postal privatization, the official said.

Japan will proceed with the privatization process while hearing opinions from those concerned, Machimura was quoted as saying.

The U.S. life insurance industry has been urging Japan to establish a level playing field; kampo services enjoy preferential treatment such as tax exemptions and government guarantees for their policies.

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