WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States asked Japan on Thursday to ensure fair market competition between the companies to be created from Japan Post and its rivals, and Tokyo asked Washington to postpone its enhanced antiterrorism measures.

The requests were made in the annual exchange of regulatory reform recommendations in Washington between Deputy Foreign Minister Ichiro Fujisaki and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Josette Shiner.

The U.S. reform report says requests related to the privatization of Japan Post are central to this year’s recommendations.

“A truly market-oriented approach must include the establishment of undistorted competition in Japan’s insurance, banking and express delivery markets,” it says. “Elimination of all advantages accorded to Japan Post over its private-sector competitors is essential.”

The Japanese government plans to privatize the state-backed postal organization, which offers mail delivery, and savings and life insurance services, in stages from 2007 to 2017.

In its report, the United States calls on Japan to create an independent committee to regularly check that there was fair competition between postal insurance and savings businesses and their private-sector rivals.

The privatized postal insurance and savings businesses will be placed under the supervision of the Financial Services Agency.

Japan’s report asks the United States to further extend its deadline for 27 countries, including Japan, to issue passports with digitally encoded information on the holders’ facial features or fingerprints.

The U.S. recently extended its deadline for the biometric passports by one year to Oct. 26, 2005.

Currently, citizens from the 27 countries, which also include Australia, Germany, New Zealand and Singapore, can travel to the U.S. without visas. But if those countries do not provide biometric passports, the visa-free entry program will be discontinued.

Japan also asked the U.S. to immediately repeal trade measures the World Trade Organization has deemed in violation of its rules.

The measures include an antidumping law widely known as the Byrd Amendment. The law, named after its chief proponent, Sen. Robert Byrd, allows antidumping tariffs collected by the U.S. government to be shared with domestic industries to help offset damage from cheap foreign imports.

Every fall, Japan and the U.S. exchange reform recommendations under the Regulatory Reform Initiative, begun in 2001 by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President George W. Bush.

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