Japan-European Union (EU) Regulatory Reform Dialogue in Tokyo

December 2, 2005

1. Date and attendees

(1) Date: Friday, 25 November 2005, 9:30-18:00
Venue: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(2) Attendees from the Japanese side: Mr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) (Co-Chair); Ms. Tomiko Ichikawa, Director of the Economic Integration Division of MOFA; and officials from eleven ministries and agencies
(3) Attendees from the EU side: Mr. Karel Kovanda, Deputy Director-General of the External Relations Directorate General of the European Commission (Co-Chair); Mr. Seamus Gillespie, Head of Unit for Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, External Relations Directorate General of the European Commission; officials from the European Commission; and officials from the Delegation of the European Commission in Japan

Started in 1994, the Japan-EU Regulatory Reform Dialogue has been annually held in Tokyo and Brussels in recent years. Every year, each side submits proposals for regulatory reform for the other side and both sides discuss the regulations in Japan and the EU with a view to improving the business environment. The next meeting is expected to be held in Brussels around March 2006.

2. Overview

(1) EU's Proposals for Regulatory Reform in Japan

    Japan's Proposals for Regulatory Reform in EU

(2) Discussions at the meeting were focused primarily on the EU's Proposals to Japan, which include the following topics:

(Underlined items refer to newly discussed items)

(a) Investment

The new Corporate Law (triangular merger and the related taxation measures, Article 821 on 'quasi-foreign companies'), the use of Public Comment Procedures, translation of Japanese laws and ordinances into foreign languages, and others.

(b) Government procurement

Improvement of the tendering procedures for construction and other sectors, establishment of a single consolidated database, and others.

(c) Information and Communications Technology

Neutrality in regulations, 3G spectrum allocation, and others.

(d) Financial services (banking, insurance)

Abolishment of Article 65 of the Securities and Exchange Law, approval of the trust business by foreign bank branches, review on treatment of re-insurance for Small-amount Short-term Insurance Providers, and others.

(e) Privatisation of Japan Post

Ensuring a level playing field and fair competition between the to-be-privatised postal entities and private sector companies, and others.

(f) Air transport

Sales price of air tickets, and others.

(g) Pharmaceuticals and medical devices

Improvement of the approval process for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, co-operation on regulatory harmonisation, and others.

(h) Food safety and agricultural products

Speeding up of the authorisation process for food additives and flavourings, imports of bovine and ovine products, organic food certification, plant quarantine, and others.

(i) Building standards

Establishment of a forum for the exchange of information and opinions between experts, and others.

(3) Japan's Proposals to the EU on the following topics were also introduced in the meeting:

(a) Streamlining of the EU regulations ('Better Regulations')

(b) Assessment of equivalence between Japanese accounting standards and International Accounting Standards (IAS)

(c) New chemical regulations in EU (REACH) and Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipments (RoHS)

(d) Speeding up and simplification of the issuing process for visas, residence and work permits

(e) Implementation cycle of the Japan-EU Regulatory Reform Dialogue

3. Results

It was confirmed that the Japan-EU Regulatory Reform Dialogue is an effective tool for promoting regulatory reform and investment in both Japan and the EU. The EU side expressed its appreciation for Japan's efforts on, inter alias, Public Comment Procedures, promotion of the conclusion of bilateral social security agreements, translation of Japanese legal texts into foreign languages, reviews on regulations for banking/insurance services, privatisation of Japan Post, improvement of the approval process for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and reinforcement of dialogue on building standards.

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