HART: JAPANESE PORT REFORM EFFORTS INADEQUATE
On the eve of two days of talks in Tokyo, U.S. Maritime Administrator
Clyde Hart Jr. set an urgent tone to secure port reforms that were promised by the
Japanese government two years ago.
Addressing the International Propeller Club in Tokyo, Hart criticized
the slow pace of the reforms and also a proposed deregulation package that will be
presented to the Japanese Diet in the year 2000.
Hart warned that if meaningful reforms are not forthcoming, Japan will
continue to lose business to other lower cost Asian ports.
He was especially critical of the Japanese government’s port
deregulation proposal. "It could have been a blueprint for reform that
would finally open Japan’s ports to the free market," Hart said. Rather,
the proposal "looks to the past, not to the future."
He characterized the proposed legislation as a package that will
preserve Japan’s monopoly over stevedoring operations in Japanese ports "by setting
up insurmountable obstacles" to new companies who would stimulate competition in the
Japanese port services sector.
"The choice is clear," he said. "Japan can maintain its
attempt to preserve its existing port jobs, and watch the rest of the world sail by to
less costly destinations. Or it can embrace port reform and develop the kind of
first-class port services that such a great trading
nation and its trading partners deserve and have the right to expect."