WASHINGTON -- A top Japanese diplomat, angered by American criticism of Japan's refusal to play a larger role in the multinational coalition in the Persian Gulf, lashed back yesterday, blaming the United States for spawning the crisis by refusing to learn how to conserve energy.
"It is your [America's] fault," Masamichi Hanabusa, Japanese consul general in New York and Japan's second-highest-ranking diplomat in the United States, told reporters. "You caused the problem."
Japan, he said, sharply cut back on its oil consumption in the 1980s, a period when the United States largely relaxed its conservation efforts.
As a result, he said, Japan does not deserve its reputation for being more dependent on Middle Eastern oil than is the United States.
Actually, U.S. Energy Department statistics show that Japan, which imports virtually all of its oil, relies more upon Persian Gulf producers than does the United States.
In 1989, Japan imported more than 3 million barrels of oil a day from the gulf region, while the United States imported roughly 2 million barrels -- even though the United States consumes much more oil than does Japan.
But Japan has slashed its oil consumption by 10 percent over the past decade while the United States still consumes about the same amount as it did in 1980, according to Patrick Connoley of Cambridge Energy Research Associates in Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hanabusa also insisted that the $11 billion in Persian Gulf assistance that Japan had promised was "very much enough."
He expressed dismay that Americans continue to criticize Japan for failing to do more and for not delivering its aid package until the war was over.