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Beware of Lure

September 07, 1986

The Aug. 15 article, "Japan Lures U.S. Health-Care Firms," is so out of character with previous trade dealings with Japan that perhaps some caution is called for before it is endorsed.

The Japanese are preparing a "Made in the U.S. Fair in Osaka next March, exclusively for U.S. manufacturers of medical equipment and health-care products," the article says. The executive director of the Japan External Trade Organization, Kenjiro Takada, assures the American corporations that "this is a very good opportunity to promote U.S. exports." If this occurs, it will be completely contrary to previous experience. Japan has stubbornly resisted every effort to open their domestic markets to foreign manufacturers.

Whether it is to be different now in medical equipment remains to be seen. The history of Japan-America trade relations has been one in which we have to endure tremendous and growing trade deficits. We have seen Japanese industrial and technological products flood the American market, overwhelm many companies and throw millions of workers into the ranks of the unemployed and unemployable.

Japan, of course, has benefited greatly from this uneven exchange.

The manufacturers of medical equipment have a difficult decision to make. Is this a real opportunity to enter the home market of Japan, or merely a learning experience for the Japanese?

JACK MARGOLIN

Marina del Rey

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