Japan's ambassador to U.S. says ties are in 'crucial period'

February 18, 1992|By New York Times News Service

TOKYO -- Japan's newly appointed ambassador to the United States described the relationship between the two countries yesterday as teetering at "a rather crucial period of mutual adjustment," as the United States only slowly gets used to the idea of sharing power with an economically resurgent Japan.

The comments by Takakazu Kuriyama underscored the growing view here that relations are nearing a crisis because of growing trade tensions and the difficulty the United States has in accepting its diminished influence in the post-Cold War era.

Recent exchanges have brought to the surface an unusual level of bitterness and disillusionment that some leaders have tried to paper over, but which Mr. Kuriyama, an Amherst-educated expert on the United States who until last year was deputy foreign minister, acknowledged.

Mr. Kuriyama, who assumes his post next month, suggested that the burden for improving relations rests largely on the United States. He indicated that Japan was well on its way to opening its economy, while the United States had yet to come to grips with its deep economic troubles or with the implications of its dependence on Japan.

He said the United States needed to address two key economic problems: overconsumption, as exemplified by the yawning federal budget deficit, and under-savings, as indicated by the level of indebtedness and by the need to import capital to finance the deficit.

While some Japanese business leaders have been critical of the import agreement reached during President Bush's visit to Japan, Mr. Kuriyama said he accepted such "managed trade" as a way to tame growing difficulties.

Of the general U.S.-Japan relationship, he said, "If we fail to work together and cooperate with each other, I think the whole world will suffer."

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