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Outlook of the USPU (Japan Society of Public Utility Economics) 

1. Outline of the Society

The Japan Society of Public Utility Economics was founded in 1949. The aim of the Society is to foster studies and conduct investigations on public utilities from political, economic and technical standpoints, and to improve the general conception of public service, so as to induce a healthy development and thus contribute to public welfare. The Society has steadily conducted its activities for 50 years since its foundation. The main activities of the Society are to publish the Journal of Public Utility Economics three times a year (four times in 1998), to hold an annual national conference, and to have several regional academic meetings. The Society is made up of 420 regular members and 75 institutional members under a president and two vice presidents(both with a tenure of two years), with a board of managing directors, a board of trustees, and a secretary-general to manage the affairs of the Society. The Society has three regional sections. The Kanto and Kansai Sections were established in 1975. The Hokkaido-Tohoku Section was born in 1992. The Kanto Section has approximately 300 regular members and 50 institutional members, the Kansai Section has about 100 regular and institutional members, while the Hokkaido-Tohoku Section has about 30 members. The Society has award system under which it annually grants Academic Awards and Incentive Awards to excellent books written by relatively young members. Six Academic Awards and five Incentive Awards have been conferred between 1994 and 1999.


2. Annual National Conference

The annual national conference has been held every spring since 1950. At each conference a specific unified theme is focused on. The unified themes, the main reports under the theme and the universities where annual national conferences have been held during last five years are as follows.


44Th, 1994: Regulatory Reform and Transparency of Public Utility Regulation, Hitotubashi University.
Hiroyasu SAITO Water Supply Industry and its Deregulation Policy
Tadashi OTA Deregulation of the Water Works in Japan
Nariyasu ITO On the Regulatory Policy in the Japanese Electric Power Industry
Hozumi AWATA A View of the Deregulation Policy in the Electricity Industry
Hideki IDE Deregulation of the Gas Industry in Japan
Sigeru TAKEDA The Structure and Consequences of Deregulation of the Gas Industries in the United Kingdom
Harumasa SATO Deregulation in the Japanese Telecommunications Industry
Takahiro OZAWA Deregulations of the Telecommunications Industry
Minoru SUGAYA Trends in Broadcasting Deregulation in Japan
Seisaku TSUCHIYA Deregulations of Broadcasting Business and the Role of Public Broadcasting
Ushio CHUJOH A Plea for Open -sky and Airport Privatization
Nozomu TAKAHASHI Airline Deregulation as a Realistic Policy
Hirotaka YAMAUCHI On the Regulation of Service Market in Urban Area
Seiji ABE Taxi Business and Government Regulation
45th, 1995: Alliance and Market Structure of Regulated Industries, Aomori kouritu University.
Teruyuki INOUE The Social Background of Arguments Concerning the System of Telecommunications Business in Japan
Satoru MATUBARA and Yoshiro HOSAKA A Study of the Postal Market and the Business Form of Postal Services
Masayuki YAJIMA Deregulation in Power Markets and Changes in Supply Systems
Munemiti NOMURA Restructuring of British Rail and Government Regulation
Masakazu FUJITA The Domain of Public Utility
46th, 1996: Theory and Policy on Incentive Regulation, Chuo University.
Masu UEKUSA Theory and Policy in Incentive Regulation
Hirotaka YAMAUCHI The Effects of Price Cap Regulation: Theoretical and Practical View Point
Takashi YOKOKURA An Analysis on the Theory and Practice of Yardstick Regulation
Shusaku YAMAYA Features and Problems of Yardstick Regulation in the Electric and Gas Utility Industries
Harumasa SATO: Incentive Regulation in Telecommunication Industry
Haruo ISHII A study of The Railway's Introduction of Polity Deregulation and A New Pricing System
Ryu IMAHASI Price Regulation on Domestic Airline Industry in Japan
Masayuki YAJIMA Application of Incentive Regulations to Electric Utilities in the U. S.
Masahide DAIGO The Study : A Way to Make Good Use of Price-Cap Regulation Rather than Rate-of-Return Regulation
Tetsuzo YAMAMOTO Incentive Scheme: Theory and Practice
Masaru MIYAJIMA and Susumu OKAMOTO The Quantitative Study : Price Elasticity of Some Public Utilities
47th, 1997, Structural Changes of Public Utilities, University of Tokyo.
Hidenori FUKE Changes in Japanese Telecommunications Industry and Needs for Deregulations
Yataro FUJII Structural Changes of Government Intervention in Transport Field
Masayuki YAJIMA Structural Changes in the Electricity Supply Industry
Minoru SUGAYA,
The Role of Public Broadcasting in the Convergence and the Competition by Multi-industries
Masahiro MARUYAMA A Legal Study of Third Party Access
Seyed Farid GHADERI, Masaru MIYAJIMA and Yuichi TAKASHIMA A Quantitative Study on the Corporate Culture of the Public Utilities
Koretaka KONO On the Proposal of Dismantlement of Fiscal Investment and Loan Program
Kiyoshi YAMAMOTO 48th,1998: Frontier of Public Utilities, Kobe University.
Masao YAMAMOTO The History of Municipal Transportation Business for 80 years
Motozo TOSHIKAWA Frontier of the Japanese Gas Business
Yosaku FUJI Issues and Future Prospects of Japanese Electric Utility Industry


3. Recent Trends in Study
The Study of public utility economics in Japan has entered into a most fruitful phase. Recent trends in the study could be followed through a survey of the fields of public utility issues in the monographs published during the last five years. One of the important fields of study has been deregulation since late 1980's. Regulation has conventionally been defended as a remedy for market failure. However, recently it has been observed that regulation often disturbs the introduction of new technologies and services. Therefore, regulatory reform and/or deregulation has been widely recognized almost all over the world. Almost all services provided by energy, telecommunications, and transportation today are and will be affected by both competition and new technologies. Conventional telephone carriers have been facing new competitors called wireless telephone carriers. In the energy industries, new entrants will be accepted in the generation market. In addition, incentive regulation has been introduced several utility industries like telephone and energy. In this situation, major concerns are whether the deregulation policy of public utilities could enhance competition and thereby improve market performance or not. In the field of study, several outstanding works have been produced by members of the Society. Among them, Tatuo KINUGASA, Cost Structure of Public Utilities, Taga Publishing, 1995 is an excellent study on the contestable market theory. Ushio CHUJOH, Destruction of Regulation, Toyo Keizai Shiposha, 1995 is a critical study on the conventional regulatory framework. Necessity of more drastic deregulation is argued there. The second field of study to be mentioned here is social regulation. Social regulation is regulation relating health, security and environmental protection. Recently environmental issues become one of the most critical global issues. Masu UEKUSA ed,. Economics of Social Regulation, NTT Publishing, 1997 is an excellent study on theory and practice of social regulation. This book points out that conversion from direct regulation to incentive regulation will be a key concept to be activate more innovative market conduct. The third field of study is privatization. Privatization generally the formation of a privately-owned company by the sale of government-held shares to private shareholders. The underlying idea is to improve industry performance by increasing the role of market forces. What kind of problems will be encountered in the process of privatization? What will be the lessons to Japan from experiences of privatization in other countries? A number of works by members of the Society such as Toru SAKURAI, Unification of Germany and Privatization of Public Enterprise, Doubunkan Publishing, 1996, Taiwa NAKAMURA, Political Economics of Privatization, Nihon Keizai Hyoronsha, 1996, Satoru MATUBARA, Reform of Publicly Established Organization (Tokushu Houjin), Nihon Hyoronsha, 1995, Fumitoshi MIZUTANI, Japanese Urban Railways, Avebury, 1994, and Tetuzo YAMAMOTO, Market or Government, Nihon Keizai Hyoronsha, 1994. The fourth field of study is impact of information technology (IT) on utility industry and network. The rapid innovation of IT emerges several new information services including Internet. In addition, IT has enormous impact on industry structure and its network. Minoru SUGAYA, Media Policy in the United States, Chuou Keizaisha, 1997 discusses the impact of IT on the media policy in the United States. Same type of study is Iwao KIDOKORO, Communication War in the United States, Nitukan Kogyo News Paper, 1996 which is discussing the economic and social impact of new communication law in the United States. Kouichiro HAYASHI, Networking: Economics of Information Society, NTT Publishing, 1998 is also excellent work for the impact of IT on industrial structure and network. The fifth category to be mentioned is an academic, sober field of study. Sumiko ASAI, Economic Analysis of Telecommunication Industry, Nihon Hyoronsha, 1997 is an economic analysis on telecommunication market and its regulatory policy in the United States. Masayuki YAJIMA, Deregulatory Reforms of the Electricity Supply Industry, Quorum Books, 1997 is an international comparative study on the reform of electric industry. Satoru Matubara ed., Modern Postal Industry, Nihon Hyoronsha, 1996 is a comprehensive study on postal corporation in Japan. Other themes expected to appear in the near future will include incentive regulation on energy and telecommunication, reevaluation of universal service concept in post, broadcasting, telephone and energy, economic analysis of information industry including broadcasting, theoretical development of utility accounting and finance, productivity or efficiency analysis on public utilities, and comparative study of public enterprises between Japan and other countries. It is expected that members of the Society will contribute much in those various study field.