An internal U.S. government document, prepared by U.S. trade negotiators after the latest round of telecommunications talks in Tokyo, concludes that the United States has failed to obtain, or has compromised on, almost all of its objectives so far.
Its assessment contrasts markedly with a statement earlier this week by Undersecretary of Commerce Lionel H. Olmer citing "significant progress." Olmer was a ranking member of the U.S. delegation that came to Tokyo last week.
The issue of further opening Japan's $4-billion-a-year telecommunications market to foreign companies, to offset the burgeoning U.S. trade deficit with Japan, has become the key test of trade relations between the two nations. The negotiations are meant to be completed by April 1.
In Washington, informed sources said there had been progress on some points in the memo since it was prepared, but even in these instances, U.S. negotiators have not received written commitments to back up verbal assurances from the Japanese. Olmer sounded a positive note in his speech Monday in an effort to encourage the Japanese to be less rigid, Washington Post staff writer Stuart Auerbach reported.
A key senator, meanwhile, took a harder line toward Japan. Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), who has been one of the most vigorous fighters against protectionism in the Senate, introduced legislation that would bar Japan from selling telecommunications equipment in the United States until it opens its market fully to American products.
["I have no hopes that the April 1 deadline for new Japanese telecommunications ordinances will bring with it new and major concessions from the Japanese," Chafee said. "A few concessions hardly warrant rejoicing over our success. The problems we have had with weak implementation by foot-dragging middle-level bureaucrats in Japan leave no room for optimism that agreed concessions will be implemented to our advantage."]
Japanese leaders have said repeatedly that the government will treat domestic and foreign concerns equally. However, U.S. officials have charged that Japan intends to maintain a wide variety of formal and informal barriers.
The document, dated March 15, was obtained by The Washington Post. It is a two-page chart chronicling U.S. officials' perceptions of the Japanese position on various issues under discussion from January 1984 through the latest round of talks, conducted on March 15.
Listing U.S. objectives, it applies a "yes" or "no" answer to the question of whether each has been achieved. A "yes" is given only if Japan is felt to have completely adopted Washington's position. A "no" is given if it has adopted some but not all aspects.
The answer is based on written procedures in Japan's administrative framework rather than on verbal assurances, the document specifies. U.S. officials have often maintained that in negotiating with Japan, nothing is certain unless it is in writing.
A Japanese official, told of the document's contents, said the United States tends to give Japan bad marks if there is the least bit of ambiguity. He agreed with some of the document's conclusions but said that others will prove unfounded.
It lists four principles as having guided U.S. negotiators in the talks, which began early in 1984 when it became clear that Japan would denationalize the monopoly phone company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) and open the field to competition. They are:
* Elimination of discretionary authority of Japanese officials. This refers to U.S. officials' contention that unnecessary regulations over some aspects of the telecommunications industry will give officials the power to discriminate against foreign companies.
* Adoption of technical standards that would certify equipment solely on the basis of whether its use would harm Japan's communications network. The Japanese government contends that it must meet specific standards for such things as voice level and quality.
* Guarantees against discrimination aimed at foreign suppliers.
* Assurance that foreigners could take part in devising future regulations and receive a fair hearing.
For each of these principles, the document lists "no" on the question of whether the U.S. objective has been achieved.
Listing 10 broad issues to be resolved, the document concludes that in only one case has the United States clearly gotten its way. This was in Japanese agreement that foreign testing data could be accepted by certifying authorities here and that companies could sell as many units of approved models of equipment as they wanted, rather than having to apply separately for clearance of separate "lots."
The document concludes "maybe" in three categories:
* Foreign participation in a council that advises the Japanese government on telecommunications.
* Opportunity to comment in advance on proposed regulations.
* Enactment of rules to allow American-licensed telecommunications engineers to practice in Japan.
The document concludes "details unknown" on the question of whether NTT will be barred from subsidizing its unregulated activities with money earned in protected, regulated ones after it becomes a private company on April 1.
It lists "no" on the following:
* Elimination of registration requirements for certain types of computer networks.
* Elimination of "arbitrary criteria" for establishing the category of regulation that would apply to certain computer networks.
* Adoption of the single "harm to network" criterion.
* Establishment of a single independent approval agency for all equipment and networks.
* Creation of an appeals procedure outside the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, which regulates the industry.
A Japanese official said many of the U.S. requests are impossible to grant, because laws passed by the Japanese Diet, or national legislature, to denationalize NTT require otherwise. Registration and criteria for computer networks are among them, these laws say.