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Japan Offers U.S. a Chance to Be Heard : Americans Will Be Allowed to Testify on Telecommunications

April 03, 1985|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications disclosed Tuesday that it has offered the United States a chance to have its opinions heard in future decisions on standards for telecommunications equipment and in determining policy affecting the newly deregulated industry.

Akiyoshi Takada of the ministry's Telecommunications Bureau said Japan promised the United States last week that it will allow Japanese employees of American firms operating in Japan to sit as full members of the Telecommunications Deliberation Council and on subcommittees of the ministry's advisory body. The council sets standards for equipment and recommends policy.

Also, he said, Americans will be allowed to testify as witnesses at hearings of the council and its subcommittees.

Takada said the offer was made by Moriya Koyama, a vice minister, to Lionel H. Olmer, U.S. undersecretary of commerce, in negotiations that ended unsuccessfully in Washington last Thursday. He did not say what Olmer's reaction to the offer was, and no American official has yet commented publicly on the offer.

Olmer had insisted that Americans be named to the council, but Japanese law bars non-Japanese from serving as full members of government advisory bodies.

The Reagan Administration has made guarantees of what it calls "transparency" a major goal in its efforts to persuade Japan to open up its $6-billion telecommunications market, which until Monday was dominated by the government.

To Meet U.S. Demands

Michihiko Kunihiro, head of the Foreign Ministry's Economic Affairs Bureau, said the offer was made to meet U.S. demands that future standards and policy be set openly rather than behind closed doors.

Takada added, however, that the terms of the current council members will not expire for 10 to 15 months and that the government has not yet found a way to appoint a Japanese representative of a U.S. firm.

Kunihiro indicated that Takeo Shiina, president of IBM (Japan) and a Japanese national, is likely to be appointed to the council when a vacancy is created.

Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone has added his personal pledge to ensure openness in the telecommunications industry. He made this pledge in an emergency meeting Sunday with two envoys whom President Reagan had sent to Tokyo in an eleventh-hour attempt to stave off congressional retaliation against Japanese telecommunications imports into the United States.

To meet another major U.S. demand--for impartiality in testing equipment for certification in Japan--Takada said representatives of Japanese electronics firms and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone who have been serving as members of the Japan Approvals Institute for Terminal Equipment have all resigned their company positions.

Each, he said, submitted a written pledge to refrain from receiving either "instructions or influence" from their former employers as they test equipment in the future.

'Ensuring Impartiality'

The ministry, Takada said, "has assumed the responsibility of ensuring the impartiality of the testing agency."

He also said that members of the testing agency will assume the status of civil servants and will be subject to punishment if they show favoritism.

The new testing agency, which was established last fall, has had trouble finding qualified experts, Takada said. Until last October, NTT did all Japanese telecommunications testing.

The five members of the board of the testing agency, all former Japanese electronics company employees, resigned March 23 and were replaced by independent representatives--three university professors, a retired diplomat and a retired official of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Takada said.

Plans to set up a number of separate testing agencies were scrapped in response to American demands, he said.

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