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Expands Telecommunications Council by 2 : Japan Moves to Keep Its Promise to U.S.

April 09, 1985|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone's government Monday took its first concrete step to implement a promise to provide a forum for American views on the formation of policy and standards for Japan's telecommunications industry.

A meeting of vice ministers of government ministries and agencies approved an amendment to a Postal and Telecommunications Ministry ordinance expanding the number of members of the ministry's key Telecommunications Deliberation Council from 20 to 22. The revision was to be approved by the Cabinet today as a part of an important series of market-opening measures that will be announced in the late afternoon.

The market-opening package, Nakasone's fifth since taking office in November, 1983, is expected to have a major impact--for good or bad--on Congress, which is threatening to enact retaliatory legislation against Japan if Japan fails to open its market to foreign goods.

In negotiations with the United States, Japan refused to yield to demands that American businessmen be named to the council and its expert subcommittees. But, in a meeting between Nakasone and two special envoys from President Reagan on March 31--the day before Japan ended 105 years of government monopoly control of the telecommunications industry--Nakasone promised to take action to appoint one or more Japanese employes of foreign companies to the council.

IBM Executive Suggested

Michihiko Kunihiro, head of the Foreign Ministry's economic affairs bureau, indicated April 2 that Takeo Shiina, president of IBM (Japan) and a Japanese national, was likely to be appointed to the council if a vacancy occurred. There was no indication who might be appointed to the second new post.

Nakasone also held a last-minute meeting Monday with his postal minister, Megumu Sato, in which a final decision reportedly was made to allow the use of KU-band frequencies by communications satellites, a move which was expected to be announced today. It was expected to remove one major impediment to a possible purchase of a U.S.-made satellite.

Hughes Aircraft, Ford Aerospace and RCA all have set up joint ventures with Japanese firms in hopes of selling a communications satellite here, most likely to one of the new firms planning to enter the basic telecommunications business now that it has been thrown open to private enterprise for the first time.

U.S. officials here noted that both RCA and Ford Aerospace manufacture satellites that can use either the KU or KA band of frequencies, but Hughes' satellites are capable of communicating with ground stations only through KU-band frequencies. Satellites that use KA-band frequencies are more expensive than those which use the KU band, the officials explained.

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