Miyazawa gives as good as he gets

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The Independent Online
THE US-Japanese summit here has made apparently scant progress towards removing trade frictions between the two countries, as President Bill Clinton demanded further moves by Tokyo to open up its markets - only for Kiichi Miyazawa, Japan's Prime Minister, to retort that protectionism or unilateral measures by Washington would serve nobody's interest.

At a news conference after three hours of talks at the White House, Mr Clinton said he had spelt out to Mr Miyazawa his concern over Japan's growing trade surplus and its 'inadequate market access'. He insisted Tokyo make specific moves to increase imports in sectors such as cars, components and computers, which account for two-thirds of the trade imbalance.

As if underlining the President's point, the Commerce Department announced February trade figures showing a 6 per cent rise in the US deficit with Japan to dollars 4.13bn. At the present pace, Japan's bilateral surplus with its most important trading partner could top last year's dollars 49bn. That in turn represented more than half of the entire US deficit in 1992, of dollars 84bn. Simultaneously, the dollar fell to an all-time low of 112.05 yen.

But, speaking in flawless English, Mr Miyazawa gave as good as he got, voicing Japan's 'serious concern' over 'some trends' in the US - a reference to the increasingly belligerent posture struck by Mickey Kantor, the Trade Representative, and others.

The Prime Minister insisted Japan was already working to improve access for American goods. But this could not be done 'under the threat of 'managed trade' or unilateralism'. He gave no sign of further moves beyond this week's dollars 116bn stimulus package in Tokyo to stoke up domestic demand and increase imports.

View from Tokyo, page 19