The U.S. Trade Representative Office’s special assistant on technical barriers to trade said May 19 that a Japanese agency is considering a new registration program for software suppliers that could impede American software from entering the Japanese market.

At a Georgia Tech conference on Japan’s technical standards, Suzanne Troje showed Globalfax a proposal from the Japanese Accreditation Board (JAB), a Japanese government-chartered industry association, to “develop a new barrier to software suppliers outside Japan.” The JAB said that a survey showed “domestic software suppliers (in Japan) were in favor of such a system…because they anticipated that customers in Japan would make this request.”

Ms. Troje said the proposal would be “a dangerous precedent for developing countries” that might copy Japan’s move to protect their domestic software production too. Members of the Atlanta software development community — the third largest in the U.S. — also expressed concern.

Cary Chandler, vice president of sales and marketing of Marietta-based A.D.A.M. Software, which earns 10% of its total company revenues from the Japanese market, said that such regulations could create a “bureaucratic nightmare that could hamper his company’s operations in Japan.  A.D.A.M. has had links to Japanese industrial giant Matsushita since 1992.

Ed Hanley of Atlanta?based TSP, an international outsourcing firm for software developers, said that he sees the plan as “a method to prevent U.S. software from getting in” to the Japanese market.  The move could compound the already?severe problems with intellectual property protection in Asia, he said.