Nakasone `committed' to improved trade. But he calls for US economic reforms to lower deficit, dollar
Relief from record-breaking United States trade deficits with Japan may be in sight, says Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. More ``brightness'' in the world economy, combined with new efforts by Japan to increase imports and decrease exports, could begin to show results by ``around this fall,'' leading to better trade relations between the two economic superpowers, Mr. Nakasone said yesterday.
But in comments to reporters following two days of meetings with US officials, Nakasone also warned that products from around the world will continue to be ``sucked into'' the US in the absence of major economic reforms, including decreasing the budget deficits that keep the US dollar strong on world markets.
In an exchange of farewells with President Reagan at the White House, Nakasone renewed a pledge to pursue what he called an ``epochmaking task of structural adjustment'' designed to increase the access of Western nations, including the United States, to the Japanese market.
The meetings between the two leaders apparently produced few specifics on how such an adjustment might be accomplished. Nevertheless, Mr. Reagan said he was ``impressed'' by Nakasone's commitment to help eliminate the massive trade imbalance that now exists between the US and Japan.
Despite various efforts under Nakasone to open up the Japanese market to US exports, plus a sharp drop during the past year in the value of the US dollar against the yen, the US trade deficit with Japan is three times higher today than it was in 1982 when Nakasone took office. Last year, Japanese exports topped US imports by nearly $50 billion.
On Sunday, Nakasone traveled to Camp David, the presidential retreat in western Maryland, where the two discussed trade, defense, terrorism, and plans for the 12th annual Western economic summit, scheduled to take place in Tokyo next month.
According to a US official who briefed reporters following the meeting, Reagan urged Nakasone to agree to new talks to find ways to expand the export of several US products.
But Nakasone reportedly declined to be specific in discussing plans to implement the recommendations of a recent Japanese government advisory panel designed, in part, to help reduce trade frictions between Japan and the Western industrial democracies. The report calls for a basic restructuring of the Japanese economy to reduce reliance on export revenues.
The panel's report also recommended fundamental changes in the Japanese life style to accommodate the West, including shortening the average workweek from six days to five; raising wages; encouraging more consumer spending on housing and other personal comforts; and reducing personal savings which now, encouraged by special tax breaks, are the highest of any industrialized nation in the world.