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Japan and the United States agreed Thursday to enhance bilateral cooperation on the protection of intellectual property rights by exchanging information so they can address piracy problems in third countries, most notably China.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai adopted a joint initiative during their meeting in Tokyo to combat piracy and counterfeiting, calling for seminars and technical assistance for the third countries and support for private-sector protection efforts.

“By strengthening bilateral cooperation, we can show our resolve to the international community to make all-out efforts for the protection of intellectual property rights,” Nikai told reporters.

“This partnership between the two countries that believe passionately in the power of innovation, ideas, copyrights, trademark and patents will ensure that we make the world a safer and healthier place for consumers,” Gutierrez said, adding the accord will “continue to incentivize innovators all over the world to create better and better products.”

The commerce secretary cited as examples the spread of bogus medicines and counterfeit automobile parts could cause health and safety hazards.

Infringements of intellectual property rights cost U.S. businesses approximately $250 billion annually and about 70 percent of pirated items seized at the U.S. border have been made in China, according to Japanese and U.S. officials.

During their meeting, Nikai and Gutierrez agreed that although Chinese authorities are trying to fight piracy, their enforcement has fallen short.

Gutierrez arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday after a five-day visit to China. His two-day trip to Japan is intended to support U.S. businesses in Japan.

Copyright shortcuts

The Council for Cultural Affairs subcommittee in charge of artist copyright deregulation convened its first meeting Thursday and discussed procedures for Internet protocol multicast broadcasters in Japan, council officials said.