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Japanese Resentment Grows Over Washington Pressure

December 25, 1991| From Associated Press

TOKYO — The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the Japanese public's resentment over Washington's economic and political pressure is growing and that support is weakening for Japan's alliance with the United States.

The unusually frank assessment came in the ministry's annual report, released just two weeks before President Bush is to visit Tokyo.

"With the disappearance of the East-West confrontation, it cannot be denied that the alliance . . . is becoming less persuasive among the public," the report says.

Anti-Japanese sentiment is growing among Americans, in part because of the large trade imbalance between the two countries, the 600-page report says.

Japanese, meanwhile, are increasingly offended by "high-handed" demands from the United States to lower trade barriers, it says.

"Of course, this does not mean that Japan should depart from the alliance with the United States," said a Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A major element of the alliance is the 1952 treaty that allows the United States to base troops in Japan and calls for it to help in Japan's defense. Japan continues to urge a strengthening of Tokyo-Washington ties to enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since Friday, the Foreign Ministry has been distributing tens of thousands of pamphlets that liken the friction between the two nations to lovers' squabbles.

"What is important is that problems are solved through discussion, in the same way a couple's affection is deepened through overcoming difficulties," says the 11-page pamphlet, intended to increase young people's understanding of U.S.-Japan relations before Bush's visit.

"On one hand, Coca-Cola, hamburgers and Disneyland have become a part of Japanese life. On the other, Walkmans, family computers and sushi have become indispensable aspects of American life," the pamphlet says.

The ministry official said that the Persian Gulf War persuaded Japan it needs to contribute more to international peace, protection of human rights and the global economy.

But the war also accelerated the Japanese public's displeasure with Americans, who did not sufficiently appreciate the $13 billion Japan provided to the U.S.-led, anti-Iraq coalition that drove Iraq out of Kuwait and instead focused on criticizing Japan's small contribution of manpower, the report says.

Japan sent no military personnel, citing the ban in its U.S.-drafted constitution on the use of force to settle international disputes.

The government has been trying to pass a bill that would allow Japanese troops to go overseas for the first time since World War II but only as part of U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Tokyo also tried to establish a special tax to supply funds for international cooperation but scrapped the idea in the face of opposition.

Local newspapers say Japanese officials are worried about what new pressures will come during Bush's visit to Japan. Washington wants Japan to buy more American products such as auto parts and to allow imports of rice.

Bush plans to bring along 21 U.S. business leaders, including the chairmen of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

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