Office of the United States Trade Representative


USTR Portman Applauds Japan Regulatory Reforms

WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today commended the economic reforms Japan is taking to open markets to U.S. exporters and to help promote growth in the Japanese economy.  Detailed in this year’s annual report to President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi under the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative, the reforms include measures to expand market access in the mobile wireless sector, facilitate trade in fruits and vegetables, intensify bilateral cooperation on intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, and speed the delivery of innovative medical devices and drugs to the public.

“This year’s report shows we continue to make important progress in our work with Japan to cut away the web of regulations that have hampered the ability of U.S. companies to do business in key sectors in the Japanese market.  These reforms have helped Japan turn the corner towards growth and, if continued, will contribute to economic expansion in the future,” Portman said.

“Nevertheless, a number of bilateral trade problems persist, including Japan’s continuing ban on the import of U.S. beef.  Japan’s steps forward this week towards reopening its beef market are important progress.  I strongly urge the Japanese Government to work expeditiously so U.S. beef can again be exported to Japan,” Portman added.

The Regulatory Reform Report places a special focus on the reform of Japan Post, which will begin to privatize in 2007.  The Report specifies several important steps designed to hold the newly established postal entities to the same regulatory and other standards as all private sector players in the banking, insurance, and express delivery industries.

Japan will also consider whether a level playing field exists before any new postal financial products are allowed into the market.  Portman said, “I strongly urge and am counting on Japan to establish a truly level playing field between the new Japan Post entities and private-sector companies before approving any new products.  Ensuring transparency for all parties will also be an essential element in this regard.”

In addition, the Report places a special focus on regulatory and market access issues related to medical devices and pharmaceuticals.  This is of particular importance given Japan will be making key decisions on reimbursement pricing in the coming months.  Portman said, “I urge the Japanese Government to ensure medical device and drug prices are established in a manner that is transparent, predictable, and fair, and rewards innovation.  This in turn will allow the Japanese people to enjoy the benefits of the best and most innovative products available.”



The 87-page Report released today is the “Fourth Report to the Leaders” under the Regulatory Reform Initiative.   It includes reform measures that will yield concrete benefits for Japan’s consumers as well as U.S. firms seeking to do business in the Japanese market.   Highlights of steps Japan has taken or will take include:

·        Making substantial blocks of spectrum available primarily for new wireless entrants, thereby creating opportunities not only for telecommunications companies wanting to expand into the wireless business in Japan, but also equipment suppliers to those companies;

·        Removing regulatory barriers impeding the import of agricultural goods by streamlining plant quarantine procedures in ways that facilitate trade for U.S. fruit and vegetable producers;

·        Intensifying cooperation with the United States to strengthen intellectual property rights protection and enforcement in Asia and around the world;

·        Implementing measures to improve the performance of the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency to speed regulatory approvals of advanced medical devices and drugs, and recognizing the value of innovation in medical device and drug pricing;

·        Removing regulatory impediments to e-commerce, strengthening copyright protection, cooperating closely with the private sector to combat spam, improving government network security in an open manner, ensuring effective and transparent implementation of Japan's new Privacy Law, and improving foreign firms’ access to bidding on government IT systems;

·        Reducing landing fees at Narita International Airport, which will lower the cost of doing business in Japan for U.S. airlines and express delivery companies;

·        Significantly strengthening the Japan Fair Trade Commission’s enforcement capabilities through recent amendments to the Antimonopoly Act that have increased penalties on companies engaging in bid-rigging and introduced a leniency program to combat cartels;

·        Passing legislation to strengthen Japan’s Public Comment Procedure, thereby increasing transparency in the development and implementation of regulations; and

·        Unveiling a new two-year “Program for Further Financial Reform,” designed to promote financial system vitality by enhancing user protection and convenience while strengthening the ability of financial institutions to offer a wider range of services.

President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi launched the Regulatory Reform Initiative in 2001 as an important component of the U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth.  Each year, the two Governments exchange reform recommendations in the fall under this Initiative. These recommendations serve as a basis for annual reports to the President and Prime Minister, specifying reform measures to be taken by each Government. USTR is the lead agency for the U.S. Government for this Initiative while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes the lead for the Japanese Government.                                                         

For more information, please see the fact sheets summarizing the Fourth Report to the Leaders and the full text of the report at


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