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MITI Head Denies Agreement With U.S. On Chip Market Share

March 11, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan has never agreed to bring the share of U.S. semiconductors sold in the Japanese market up to 20 percent by 1991, the minister of Japan’s powerful MITI said Friday in the first cabinet-level statement on the issue.

Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, head of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, also denied that Japanese companies were involved in the construction of a chemical weapons plant in Libya.

On the semiconductor issue, the minister was responding to a recent statement by U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills that Japan secretly agreed to increase the share of U.S. chips to 20 percent when it signed a bilateral semiconductor accord in 1986.

While issuing the first official denial by a cabinet minister, Mitsuzuka added, however, that there is no change in the Japanese government intention of making efforts to increase the share of U.S. semiconductors in Japan.

Saying the Japanese chip market is open, he told reporters that it is possible to bring the share of U.S. chips up to the U.S. target if the two countries cooperate.

Mitsuzuka’s denial of the involvement of Japanese companies in the construction of the Libyan chemical weapons plant came one day after Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said in a statement, issued under the name of its president, Yotaro Iida, that it played no part in the Libyan project.

In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing earlier this month, U.S. intelligence sources were reported to have said Mitsubishi helped ship machinery which was part of the equipment to manufacture chemical weapons. Such other Japanese companies as Toshiba Corp., Mitsubishi Corp. and Japan Steel Works Ltd. were also allegedly involved.

Mitsuzuka said MITI itself has investigated the allegations but found that there is no truth to them. ″There is no problem right now,″ he said.

There is speculation in Japan that the charges might be designed to pressure the U.S. administration to put a stop to a General Dynamics Corp. move to provide Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with the technology needed to build a jetfighter modeled after a U.S. plane.

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