• Kyodo News

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Japanese and EU officials met Thursday in Tokyo for regulatory reform dialogue, with the European Union raising pressure on Japan to improve the business environment for companies from the 27-member economic bloc by reducing nontariff barriers.

The Japan-EU Regulatory Reform Dialogue, launched in 1994, is held twice a year. The latest meeting revolved around a set of proposals made by the EU side, which urged easing of Japanese regulations on investments, participation in public procurement and domestic use of vehicles and medical devices made in the bloc.

On government procurement, the European Union has said participation by EU firms has been hindered by a “lack of transparency” in the Japanese system, urging fewer administrative obstacles and more English translation of related legislation.

The European Union also demanded that the Japanese government continue to commit to opening some services to competition as Japan intends to review its postal privatization process launched in 2007. The bloc called for a “level playing field” between Japan Post entities and service providers outside the country.

As for food safety, the bloc urged Japan to resume EU beef imports, which have been banned due to fear of mad cow disease. While Japan has resumed imports of beef from the United States and Canada, the European Union said the import ban is discriminatory, and that EU firms do a good job of controlling certain risks for the disease.

The dialogue came as Japan and the European Union have been struggling to make headway in potential free-trade talks.

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