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Japan to Send Auto Inspector to Detroit in Bid to Help U.S. Exports With AM-Japan-US Trade

February 25, 1994

TOKYO (AP) _ In a move intended to speed up U.S. auto exports to Japan, the Transport Ministry said Friday it plans to station a government inspector in Detroit, the hub of the American automobile industry.

U.S. officials have repeatedly urged Japan to simplify its import procedures and other restrictions that they say keep the Japanese auto market effectively closed to foreign-made products.

The auto trade has drawn particularly close attention because it accounts for about two-thirds of Japan’s nearly $60 billion trade surplus with the United States.

At present, foreign automakers must ship new car models to Japan for inspection and submit paperwork to the Transport Ministry before they can begin sales - a procedure that often takes two months to complete.

Naoki Esumi of the Transport Ministry’s office of international affairs said he believed the decision to station an inspector in Detroit would be welcomed by American auto makers.

Masayuki Shima of the ministry’s engineering and planning division will begin working as an inspector at the Japanese Consulate General in Detroit on April 1, Esumi said.

Meanwhile, Nissan Corp. Chairman Yutaka Kume, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, told Japanese reporters that the Japanese auto industry would help U.S. auto firms promote sales in Japan.

Trade Minister Hiroshi Kumagai urged Japanese automakers to come to terms with the ″extremely difficult reality″ of trade talks with the United States, which collapsed Feb. 11 when the two sides failed to reach agreement on setting targets to measure the success of market-opening measures.

Kumagai said Japanese firms should do something to soothe U.S. anger over the issue or risk possible trade sanctions.

Major Japanese automakers have been trying since 1989 to boost their purchases of foreign auto parts.

In January 1992, when then-President Bush visited Japan, they pledged to buy $19 billion worth of auto parts from foreign suppliers in fiscal 1994, which begins April 1.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s largest automaker, reported that it bought $4.43 billion worth of U.S.-made parts and materials in fiscal 1992, the latest year for which statistics are available, 40 percent more than in fiscal 1991.

After a top-level meeting of government economic planners and trade officials Friday, spokesman Masayoshi Takemura said the government plans to come up with a broad package of market-opening steps sometime next month.

The steps will include encouraging imports and investment, easing and eliminating regulations, facilitating the procedures involved in government orders and spurring competitive policies.

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