WASHINGTON (AP) - President Reagan and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone meet this week, eager to defuse an explosive trade dispute and demonstrate that relations between the world's commercial giants are fundamentally friendly.
According to U.S. policymakers preparing for Nakasone's three-day visit here, the Reagan administration hopes the talks will depress, not stimulate, Capitol Hill sentiment for tough new economic measures against Japan.
``I think the tune that's going to be played is that we want to resolve our differences with Japan and show that we can't allow trade friction to risk affecting the broader ranges of our relationship,'' said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
This view was shared Sunday by Nobuo Matsunaga, the Japanese ambassador to the United States. Appearing on the ABC-TV's ``This Week with David Brinkley,'' he said relations between Japan and the United States are ``basically sound and strong.''
And in Hashikojima, Japan, Hajime Tamure, Japan's minister of international trade and industry, said his country must take action if it is to keep world confidence.
``Having confidence is very serious, and if we have a government policy, it must be accompanied by action,'' he said.
U.S. Special Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter, interviewed from Tokyo on NBC's ``Meet the Press,'' said he's been pleased with talks held with Japanese officials.
``I'm convinced that some things of a very positive vein are beginning to happen in Japan on the trade front, and I hope you will see some evidence of that in the next few days,'' Yeutter said.
Nakasone arrives in Washington on Wednesday, sees Reagan at the White House on Thursday and Friday, and holds talks with other administration officials and members of Congress before leaving on Saturday.
Never before at the leaders' meetings - this will be their 11th - have tensions between the two countries been so high.
After years of complaints and threats about an imbalance in trade that hit $54.6 billion in Japan's favor last year, Reagan has imposed tarriffs on electronic goods that earned $300 million for Japan last year.
Since then, however, the Reagan administration has gone out of its way to portray the sanctions as a specific remedy and not a reversal of a White House disdain for congressional moves toward protectionism.
The administration also was quick to attack a proposal by Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., to require countries to reduce large trade surpluses with the United States by 10 percent a year.
The New York Times reported today that the Reagan …