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    Trade

    You can bet that when the US and the PRC have a high-level meeting, we hear all about it here in Japan. The top story in the Nikkei‘s evening edition was “Failure to connect on concrete issues at US-China Meeting.” The information about the meeting itself was basically the same as what we’re seeing in the English-language media:

    Hu sat down with President Bush on Thursday for what both sides described as constructive talks despite a lack of movement in differences over the Chinese currency or on how to resolve nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea.

    In a dinner speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, Hu acknowledged “differences and even frictions” in U.S.-China relations. But the Chinese leader said he and Bush agreed to take steps to move forward to a more constructive and cooperative relationship.

    “I certainly look forward to a future China-U.S. relationship that is more stable, more mature and developed on a sounder track,” Hu said in a question-and-answer session after his speech.

    Prime Minister Koizumi’s take has been posted as a quickie:

    Prime Minister Koizumi spoke to the press corps around noon on 21 April about the US-China summit, at which no material progress was made on issues such as DPRK nuclear development and yuan revaluation [the original says “revolution”–SRK]: “Nations have their respective ways of thinking. They will not necessarily agree on everything.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe spoke to a press conference about the valuation of the yuan. “What’s desirable is the kind of flexibility that reflects the fundamentals of the Chinese economy,” he indicated.

    Ooh, speaking of reflecting economic realities, the potential problems with Japan Post privatization are getting more play as the holding company’s operations are gathering steam for real. The FTC is not pleased. Japan Post’s advantages over entrants into its markets have been discussed in more detail before, but the Asahi‘s summary homes in on some of the major problems with mail delivery specifically:

    The Fair Trade Commission took shots at Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s vaunted postal privatization project, saying the plan in its current form will give the behemoth Japan Post an unfair advantage over private-sector rivals.

    In a report released Friday, the anti-monopoly watchdog pointed out a number of items that needed a review, from Japan Post’s vast delivery network to parking spaces.

    But a number of companies that have entered the business are limited to deliveries during certain time frames and at certain fees. That is because companies intending to start regular mail delivery services are required to set up a huge number of postal boxes and ensure uniform services in all corners of the country.

    But many companies cannot afford to do so.

    The FTC’s report said Japan Post will have a huge advantage over private companies if it retains its monopoly over ordinary mail delivery services and enters other fields, such as international deliveries of parcels and other items, as planned.

    Under the watered-down postal privatization bills passed last year, Japan Post can operate postal and financial services under a government-funded holding company. The government is to gradually decrease the level of its funding.

    The FTC’s report said current regulations, such as companies ensuring uniform services all over Japan, must be abolished to allow newcomers to start regular mail deliveries.

    The report also said parcel delivery companies and international distributors should be allowed to use, for a fee, Japan Post’s postal delivery network, which covers all parts of the country, after privatization.

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