The United States and Japan ended two days of talks on the politically charged issue of United States access to Japan's telecommunications market, with the American side saying Wednesday that progress has been made but "a great deal remains to be done."
U.S. Commerce Under Secretary Lionel Olmer said at a news conference that he was "encouraged" by Japan's response to United States concerns. But, he added, "we're not yet certain that we'll be satisfied by the first of April," when the giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Public Corp. becomes a private enterprise.
Washington contends that American companies can make significant advances into a competitive telecommunications market but has expressed concern that new government ordinances accompanying NTT's conversion will discriminate against foreign suppliers.
Olmer, who was to leave for Washington later in the day, said that he would be back in a week "for intensive negotiations" on the remaining issues.
President Reagan, in a January meeting with Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, specified four areas--telecommunications, electronics, wood products and drugs and medical equipment--in which American manufacturers could make inroads in Japan if trade barriers were removed.
Reagan said last week that he would not ask Japan to limit car shipments to the United States for a fifth year but, in return, sought reciprocal measures by Japan to open its markets.
Olmer was to have come for talks last week, but the trip was postponed when U.S. Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige said the Japanese were not ready to talk about specific issues.
Olmer said that, in his talks with Moriya Koyama, vice minister of post and telecommunications, and other officials, he received varying degrees of assurances that foreign suppliers would not be hampered by excessive red tape.
But he said there was still "a significant degree of differences" over American complaints that the Post and Telecommunications Ministry would overregulate and thus impede U.S. sales in the area of "enhanced telecommunications services."