'Car war' calls US-Japan alliance into question
Tuesday 16 May 1995
In words whose meaning was only thinly veiled by the leaden diplomatic phrasing, the White House spokesman Mike McCurry declared that "an impediment" in one area of Washington's comprehensive ties with Japan "will over time prevent the full benefit ... from developing across the broad spectrum of the bilateral relationship".
Translated, Mr McCurry was saying that if steps were not taken to reduce Japan's $66bn annual trade surplus with the US, then America might reconsider its nuclear guarantees and the 1960 Mutual Security Treaty. This treaty in practice banishes the spectre of a non-aligned Japan again seeking military and political domination of East Asia.
His remarks were part of the heavily choreographed build-up here to the imminent publication of a list of Japanese imports - expected to be headed by luxury cars - that will be subject to swingeing US tariffs. But they betray genuine exasperation that more than two years of talks on opening up Japan's domestic markets to US cars and car components have yielded no result.
In Toyko, a senior US official made the same point, warning of the possible "corrosive" effect of the ever-widening trade gap. "None of us want that," the official was quoted as saying, "but the huge current account and trade surpluses Japan has cannot be continued." The US accounts for around half of Japan's overall annual surplus.
The aggressive US approach reflects adminstration frustration that after 20 months of negotiations, the two sides remain far apart on the main US demands.
The United States wants Japan to open access to car dealers and to its tightly-controlled replacement parts markets. Washington also wants Japanese manufacturers to renew so-called "voluntary" agreements that spell out how they plan to boost purchases of US-made parts for their factories.
In a letter to members of Congress, Nissan North America officials said they would not bow to US demands. "We are determined to resist accepting arbitrary purchasing quotas that could ultimately force us to choose between sourcing from less competitive US suppliers or being subjected to retaliation for failing to fill our politically inspired quotas," the letter said.
But the row could yet be defused before a shot is fired in earnest. At least 30 days must elapse after the list is published and before sanctions begin.
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Kate Upton nude photos leak: Model's spokespeople 'looking into' authenticity of indecent images
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...