LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The United States and Japan have agreed on seven new Federal Express routes that will allow the company's planes to stop in Japan and continue on to other Asian nations.

Transportation Secretary Federico Pena and Japanese Transport Minister Shizuka Kamei announced the agreement Thursday night after meeting at a downtown hotel.

``This will allow FedEx to have a very strategic network in that part of the world that no other operation has,'' Pena said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Kamei said, ``We are seeking a balance on an expanded scale. We hope the physical distribution of the sky will continue to expand.''

The new Federal Express routes are to begin as soon as the necessary documents are signed.

Chief Japanese government spokesman Kozo Igarashi welcomed the agreement, saying it would help to cement relations with the United States.

But a Japanese transport ministry official, speaking today on condition of anonymity, said that while Japan was pleased with the agreement, it had hoped the deal would be broader, covering a larger number of flights.

Talks were scheduled to continue today on related issues. Pena said transportation officials from both countries would discuss the possibility of adding a cargo route for Japanese airlines between Osaka and Chicago.

In addition, officials will lay out an agenda for talks aimed at liberalizing the rules for all cargo routes between the two countries. Pena said both sides agreed the talks should be completed by the end March 1996.

U.S. cargo companies have wanted more freedom to use Japan as a Pacific shipping hub. The U.S. government has argued that those flights are allowed under a 1952 bilateral air service agreement.

But the Japanese government resisted, contending the 1952 pact unfairly favors U.S. airlines, which have more flights.

The 1952 agreement allows U.S. and Japanese carriers to pick up and unload passengers in each others' countries before continuing elsewhere.

Both sides had threatened sanctions if the talks did not lead to a solution.