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U.S.-Japan Friction Over Trade

March 12, 1994

Shintaro Ishihara's column "Imports Make U.S. Industry Go" (Commentary, Feb. 24) is a prime example of the unmitigated tripe that Japan's trading partners must attempt to digest. Ishihara takes relevant facts and weaves a deceptive story to entice us into blamingourselves for the well-documented and pervasive practices of the Japanese government and businesses in closing their markets.

If the United States takes any equitable action to redress a grievance, the Japanese act as though they are the injured party. Those of us who have had to deal with the oft-xenophobic Japanese are tiring of hearing and reading the same self-serving story that the United States is unfair and that we are the problem.



It would be difficult to deny the existence of one-way barriers to the sale of U.S. imports in Japan, just as one would be hard-pressed to deny the negligence of many American manufacturers to engage the Japanese market in an appropriately responsible way.

With all the present focus on Japan to compel repair of its discriminatory market practices, I would hope that we do not lose sight of the fact that the primary cause of our continuing trade imbalance with Japan results from the failure of U.S. manufacturers to persevere against foreign competition within our own borders.

The Japanese market problem would be little more than a tempest in a rice pot if the American auto industry restored its former position in our own home market and if, with the coming of new multimedia and high-definition television (HDTV) products, the U.S. consumer electronics industry joined in a renaissance of made-in-the-U.S. manufacturing.


Sherman Oaks

Way before Japan's foot-dragging or, better, market-opening-dragging became a big news issue, I had long decided that the marketplace was unfair. I negotiated my own mini-NAFTA and my own mini-GATT without the help of Mickey Kantor. If the product is not grown in the United States, I don't buy it. If it isn't made in the United States, I don't buy it.

I've had to make sacrifices, to be sure, but I figure that my action might help in a mini-way to prevent the massive deindustrialization of this country.

As for the billionaire CEOs, whose salaries certainly aren't adjusted tothe lowest level of the global market, I think they should register as foreign agents. To my way of thinking, that's what they are.



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