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Committee Recommends Easier Market Access for Foreign Firms

April 23, 1987

TOKYO (AP) _ An advisory committee recommends in a report being released Thursday that Japan restructure its economy to improve market access for foreign companies, the panel’s chairman said.

The thrust of the report to the government’s Economic Council is ″the necessity for Japan to transform its economic structure from one dependent upon exports to one led basically by domestic demand,″ Haruo Maekawa, chairman of the Special Committee on Economic Restructuring, said Wednesday.

He said the committee recommends that Japan take action immediately to improve market access for foreign companies, including construction firms that want a part in building a multibillion-dollar airport in western Japan.

The recommendations are likely to be presented by Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone during his visit to Washington next week as evidence of Japan’s commitment to easing trade friction.

Washington has accused Japan of selling computer chips at unfairly low prices, and has also been trying to persuade Japan to open up its markets for more foreign agricultural goods.

Maekawa said the report recommends increased deregulation of the Japanese economy, and calls for more government funds to be allocated for housing in order to stimulate domestic demand.

″Ultimately, through that process of restructuring, the standard of living of Japanese people should be enhanced,″ he said.

Regarding trade imbalances, the report says a reduction of Japan’s trade surplus ″cannot be achieved by Japanese efforts alone, but rather it should be attained within the framework of international policy coordination,″ said Maekawa.

Specifically, he said, the United States needs to reduce its budget deficits and increase its industrial competitiveness.

″If it doesn’t, the trade imbalance won’t be rectified,″ he said.

The report calls for a restructuring of Japanese industry based on market forces, with government involvement limited to easing transitions and expanding new employment opportunities, Maekawa said.

He said the report also recommends that food prices be lowered by raising agricultural productivity and increasing imports, but says Japan should maintain its policy of self-sufficiency in rice.

Other recommendations call for a shortening of working hours from 2,100 to 1,800 a year by the year 2000, increased government imports of manufactured goods, redevelopment of urban areas and decentralization of cities through creation of outlying regional urban centers, he said.

Maekawa said most of the recommendations were intended to be fulfilled by 1993-95, and that by the year 2000, ″economic restructuring would be fully implemented.″

A U.S. Embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was too early to assess the recommendations.

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