U.S. Should Have Larger Role in Airport, Says Trade Envoy
By BRIAN COVERT STAFF WRITER
OSAKA — A U.S. Commerce Department official Wednesday called on the Japanese government to follow up recent talks between the two countries’ leaders with action allowing further American access into the Kansai International Airport project. Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce J. Michael Farren said Japan’s government is responsible for seeing that recent discussions between Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and U.S. President Ronald Reagan open doors for American firms seeking to participate in the airport’s development. How those procedures are handled in the future “clearly remains the responsibility of the government of Japan,” Farren said. “All we can do is pass along comments and recommendations.” Farren spoke at a formal press conference at the International Exhibition Center here, where the ACE ’87 airport equipment and services exposition is featuring about 250 exhibitions — about 60 of them American — from worldwide industry-related firms. “We trust in the commitment that the prime minister made to President Reagan that American firms will in fact have an opportunity to participate fairly” in the project, he said. “It is that trust in the commitment from the prime minister, certainly, that has brought the American firms here this week,” said Farren. He said the American companies interested in joining the project must also “follow through with competitive equipment and services. Our purpose here this week is to show you that we can deliver the goods.” Farren, flanked by representatives from various U.S. firms featured at the expo, [dismissed] reports that companies are showing little interest in the initial development phase of the proposed 24-hour airport. The first phase will involve building a “seawall,” laying the foundations for the artificial island and constructing an access bridge to the airport that will be 5 km offshore. “You will not find American firms interested in doing prime contractor work” associated with the land-moving aspects of the project, he said. “However, there is tremendous interest on the part of American firms in providing consulting services at this stage (and) engineering services that may be used in the preparation for the construction of the bridge and the island,” he said. He said that when ACE ’87 is concluded, the U.S. government’s “ongoing discussions” with the relevant Japanese ministries will center on evaluating prospects for American participation. Some of the “immediate prospects” foreseen in the project’s first stage include supplying equipment such as cranes, rock-crushers and heavy-duty trucks to transport materials for the island construction, Farren said. U.S. equipment would be purchased by the airport company, prefectural government or prime contractors, according to Farren.