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Friendlier skies

As bilateral trading and commercial agreements go, the new three-year US-Japan aviation pact would have to be considered a relatively modest accomplishment. But the symbolic importance of the pact warrants note. For after years of difficult haggling over air rights, both nations will now offer passengers access to additional airlines and some new route structures. That can only benefit Japan and the US commercially and socially.

One carrier involved in the delicate negotiations, United Air Lines, had sought a US-Japan linkup as far back as 1966. Japan Air Lines, meantime, has tried to continue flights from the US West Coast to South America. Both airlines finally won their objectives in the new accord.

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Key issues remain to be worked out in future agreements, including lower fares, the right to fly to other nations from both countries, and whether or not there should be additional carriers on the heavily traveled run. But coming at a time when strident voices for protectionism have been raised on both sides of the Pacific, the agreement serves as a reminder of the interdependence of the two trading allies - and proof that mutually acceptable trade agreements are possible.

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