USTR - USTR Schwab Welcomes Progress on Japan Reforms; Cites Need for Sustained Focus
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

USTR Schwab Welcomes Progress on Japan Reforms; Cites Need for Sustained Focus
06/06/2007
 

 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab today welcomed new steps Japan is taking on economic reform that will help further open markets, foster new business opportunities, and stimulate competition, while urging continued focus on regulatory reform in the year ahead.  These new measures are highlighted in the Sixth Annual Report to the Leaders under the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative.

“We welcome Prime Minster Abe’s clear commitment to promoting economic reform in Japan.  Regulatory reforms taken in recent years have contributed significantly to Japan’s overall economic growth,” said Amb. Schwab.  “We applaud the Prime Minister for staying the course on creating new business opportunities, and urge further opening of the Japanese economy in the year ahead.”  

This year’s Report reflects the broad scope of measures that Japan has either taken in recent months or will take in the near-term.  These include new steps to:

• Streamline import procedures for certain agricultural and other products;

• Further open Japan to foreign investment;

• Increase transparency of regulatory and policy decision making in sectors ranging from healthcare to information technology; and

• Strengthen protections against anti-competitive acts. 

The Report also outlines new measures in response to U.S. recommendations on the importance of creating a level playing field between Japan Post and private companies in the banking, insurance, and express delivery sectors. 

Japan needs to ensure equal conditions of competition in the markets where Japan Post competes with the private sector,” Amb. Schwab said.  “As Japan readies related reforms to implement this fall, a high degree of transparency must be secured so market participants can judge whether this standard will be met.”

This year’s Report also demonstrates a continuing commitment by both governments to strengthen their cooperation in helping to combat the problem of counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property and to promote regulatory and other transparency best practices in the Asia-Pacific region.   

On an area of continuing concern to the United States, Schwab added, “Separately, I also expect Japan to move forward rapidly to fully reopen its market to U.S. beef imports consistent with international standards and science.” 

Background

This year’s 76-page Report to the Leaders was finalized on the eve of the meeting of President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G-8 Summit in Germany, and is the sixth annual edition under the Regulatory Reform Initiative. 

Each year, the two Governments exchange reform recommendations that are thoroughly discussed through working and high-level meetings.  Based on these recommendations, the Governments prepare a joint report on the results of the work under the Initiative.

Highlights of steps that have been taken or commitments for future steps made by Japan include:

• Implementing plans to substantially speed introductions of new drugs through measures such as more than doubling the number of drug reviewers;

• Opening new investment opportunities by permitting triangular mergers using foreign shares and monitoring the effectiveness of related tax deferral conditions;

• Ensuring that Japan Post’s new financial entities must meet the same obligations and standards as those of private financial institutions when they sell new or altered financial products;

• Enacting legislation to prohibit recording of movies in movie theaters while extending penalty provisions under Japan’s Copyright Law to those who commit such acts;

• Adopting risk-based and streamlined policies for the approval and importation of agricultural products;

• Streamlining the antenna certification process for wireless LAN devices (e.g. Wi-Fi devices);

• Implementing reforms that increase competition and transparency in bidding processes for government procurements of information technology systems;

• Strengthening deterrence against Antimonopoly Act violations, including by maximizing the effectiveness of a new leniency program;

• Submitting legislation to the Diet in April 2007 to help address the conflicts of interest that can arise through the reemployment of retiring government officials;

• Streamlining import procedures for nutritional supplements; and

• Amending the law to help ensure anti-takeover measures do not harm the interests of shareholders.

For more information, please see the fact sheets summarizing the Sixth Report to the Leaders and the full text of the report at www.ustr.gov.

 
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item: 2007 Regulatory Reform Initiative Report