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Japanese plan drive to step up imports

Japan now wants to step up imports in hopes of easing trade friction with the United States and Western Europe, government officials say. Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki has appointed a special task force to draw up a blueprint for boosting purchases from Japan's major trading partners.

The task force was created after an official mission returned from the United States and Europe warning that Tokyo's trade relationships were deteriorating because of Japan's mushrooming trade surplus, which may climb to $15 billion this year in trade with the US alone.

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