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U.S. Senator: Talks Failed To Open Japan’s Construction Market

December 6, 1994

TOKYO (AP) _ A U.S. senator on Tuesday accused Japan of continuing to freeze out U.S. construction companies, despite years of negotiations and Japanese promises to give foreign contractors a fair chance.

Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, said that Japan committed itself in 1988 to a six-year series of market-opening moves, but that U.S. construction companies still have a ″very, very unacceptable″ market share of about 2 percent.

Speaking to reporters at the U.S. Embassy after meeting with Japanese officials and executives, Murkowski said that a market-opening plan signed last January failed to yield a single public works construction contract to a U.S. company. He blamed the failure on ″specific action taken to favor contractors in Japan.″

But a Construction Ministry official, who declined to be named, said U.S. companies had failed to secure government contracts because they hadn’t bid on a single one this year.

Murkowski cited the new Kansai International Airport in western Japan, saying U.S. firms had a ″disappointing″ $600 million in contracts out of a total $15 billion construction cost.

He said the government should let domestic and foreign bidders know about large contracts at the same time so that foreign companies don’t miss out or have to scramble to put together last-minute bids to compete with Japanese rivals. Japan has said it plans to change the way it publishes new contracts beginning on April 1.

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