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Japan Punishes Two Firms for Sale to Soviets

May 16, 1987|United Press International

TOKYO — The government punished two major Japanese firms with stiff trade restrictions Friday for illegally selling the Soviet Union strategic technology to help its submarines avoid detection by the U.S. Navy.

The move came two days after U.S. officials traveling with Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger in Europe charged the technology transfer had a "very serious" impact on U.S. anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Japanese officials said its measures are the toughest yet on technology export control. They also warned 150 trade and industry associations against such exports to the Communist Bloc.

The firms--Toshiba Machine Co., a subsidiary of the electronics giant, and C. Itoh, a major trading house--illegally exported four machine tools to the Soviets in 1982 and 1983, Yukio Okamoto, the Foreign Ministry's national security bureau director, told a news conference.

U.S. officials have said the machines were used to grind submarine propellers to specifications the Soviets previously could not achieve, allowing them to run with significantly less noise and making them more difficult to detect.

The propellers are believed deployed on Soviet attack submarines.

"We are seriously concerned with the effect these illegally exported machines will have on the security of Japan, the security of the United States and indeed of the free world," Okamoto said.

After the Japanese measures were imposed, Toshiba Machine announced that its president, Kazuo Iimura, had resigned.

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