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Panel Says Japan Urgently Needs to Open Its Markets

November 08, 1994|From Reuters

TOKYO — Japan needs to urgently open up its markets through sweeping deregulation of the economy, an advisory council to Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Monday.

The Trade Conference also called on industry to end anti-competitive practices to help shrink the nation's huge trade surplus and benefit Japanese consumers.

"To achieve a meaningful reduction in the surplus and make consumers feel they are well off by lessening the gap between domestic and overseas prices, it is our urgent duty to open our markets further," the council said.

"In addition to fulfilling diverse import expansion policies, it is vital to promote deregulation in order to strengthen the market function of Japan's economy," it added.

The call renewed a plea made a year ago to then-Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, who made deregulation a key slogan when he ended nearly four decades of conservative Liberal Democratic Party rule in August, 1993.

Now, with the LDP back in power as the main support for Socialist chief Murayama's coalition government, proponents of cutting red tape fear the momentum for change is slowing down.

Murayama told the panel, made up of Cabinet ministers, chief executives of Japanese companies and the heads of business lobby groups, that reform and deregulation are vital to satisfy consumers and ensure Japan's economy is in harmony with the rest of the world.

"To expand consumers' choice and give them a sense of abundance, it is imperative to strengthen the market function in Japan and carry out a sweeping reform of regulations and private-sector practices which act as barriers to expanding imports," Murayama said in a prepared statement.

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