U.S. appeals to Japan's honor, guilt

March 11, 1994|By Thomas Easton | Thomas Easton,Tokyo Bureau of The Sun

TOKYO -- Having failed to achieve any breakthrough in trade talks with Japanese leaders, Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher unveiled yet another tactic yesterday to open the Japanese market -- an appeal to guilt and honor.

Mr. Christopher told reporters that he had told the Japanese they had to comply with a so-called framework commitment they made last summer to open their markets and reduce their $60 billion surplus with the United States.

"My presentation was straightforward and candid. I said simply that great nations keep their commitments. . . . Japan has not complied with the commitments that they made in the framework agreement," Mr. Christopher said.

In Tokyo amid a pan-Asia tour, Mr. Christopher's comments came after he met for an hour with Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and two hours with Foreign Minister Tsutomu Hata.

"I can't say that we reached any breakthroughs as a result of our discussions today," Mr. Christopher said, "but I can say that I found . . . a realization on the part of the leadership of Japan that the status quo is unsatisfactory."

But, Mr. Christopher emphasized, "Both countries are determined to avoid a trade war."

The July 1993 framework trade pact between the two countries aimed to slice Japan's huge and growing trade surplus mainly through market-opening steps in the fields of telecommunications, insurance and cars and car parts. But the two nations have been unable to agree on how to monitor progress.

Elected Japanese officials and civil servants have been working for weeks on a new set of proposals to be ready by the end of the month, and Mr. Christopher said the next U.S. move will be determined by how those efforts address perceived shortcomings in fulfilling commitments.

"They are now taking step to remedy to try to remedy that failure," said Mr. Christopher. "I hope that will prevent the need for any steps to be taken back and forth."

U.S. officials said he would like to speak directly to the Japanese people and business community over the heads of the government and was scheduled to deliver what aides describe as a major address to business leaders today. He then leaves for a three-day visit to China.

Japanese officials said Mr. Christopher told Mr. Hosokawa that Washington was waiting for concrete steps from Tokyo to correct the bilateral trade imbalance.

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