Procedural costs for Japan's imports 4.4 times Singapore's.
Procedural costs for importing foreign goods to Japan stand 4.4 times higher than those of Singapore, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said Wednesday.
The ministry recommended accelerating the government's plan to integrate as early in 2003 as possible the Japanese systems run separately by the transport and finance ministries and itself so as to facilitate foreign access to Japan.
METI also called for deregulation to integrate the distinctive medical and welfare markets and to allow foreign firms as well as domestic businesses to enter core parts of the markets currently limited to nonprofit corporations.
These proposals are part of METI's annual survey of selected issues to improve foreign access to Japan. Commissioned by the Japan External Trade Organization, the fiscal 2001 survey focused on trade procedures plus medical and welfare services.
On trade procedures, it found that imports to Japan, even though via computerized systems, cost 11,431 yen for a typical container, though in Singapore they cost only 2,596 yen.
These systems were set up separately by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, the Finance Ministry and METI to serve different administrative purposes, a METI official said.
Time required is also longer in Japan at 12 hours and 23 minutes, or 2.7 times Singapore's four hours and 38 minutes, the report said.
An inquiry of users of the Nippon Automated Cargo Clearance System found that 81.6% think it helped them shorten clearance time and 72.4% in rationalizing process, but that most could save only one to three hours and that 73% felt unsatisfied with the high cost of use, it said.
Regarding medical and welfare services, METI took issue with the regulations distinguishing between medical and welfare services and urged their integration.
Comparing the Japanese markets with those in the Untied States, Britain, Germany and France, it said only Japan is restricting providers of core medical services and welfare facilities to nonprofit entities.
The report came on the heels of a report calling for allowing stock companies to operate hospitals, released Tuesday by the government's advisory Council for Regulatory Reform.
But the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said the same day that stock companies should be forbidden from operating health-related facilities such as hospitals because they are profit-oriented.