Bush, Miyazawa Seek to Avoid A Tokyo Replay the Leaders, Who Both Face Elections, Will Avoid Press, Trade Disputes at Camp David. US-JAPAN SUMMIT

By Clayton Jones, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 1992 | Go to article overview

Bush, Miyazawa Seek to Avoid A Tokyo Replay the Leaders, Who Both Face Elections, Will Avoid Press, Trade Disputes at Camp David. US-JAPAN SUMMIT


Clayton Jones, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


ELECTION season in both Japan and the United States makes this week's summit between the two giant economic rivals an exercise in super-cautious diplomacy.

The Tokyo summit in January between President Bush and Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa was a political disaster. Mr. Bush turned it into a US trade mission that flopped, and Japanese leaders compounded matters later by issuing remarks critical of American workers.

This time the two leaders will meet at the secluded Camp David presidential retreat July 1-2. To prevent either leader from receiving a political black eye before elections, disputes over trade will be played down, Japanese officials say.

Mr. Miyazawa's Liberal Democratic Party faces an uphill fight in a July 26 vote for half of parliament's upper house seats. The LDP does not want Bush to upset key voters by possibly threatening trade sanctions over such issues as Japan's restricted markets in computer chips or rice.

Instead, Japanese officials hope for a gloss of friendly bilateral summitry just before the larger summit in Munich of the seven major industrial nations July 6-8.

A cordial US-Japan summit would help Miyazawa and the LDP win back its majority in the upper house, which it lost dramatically in 1989, and perhaps keep Bush unscathed by a potentially damaging campaign issue.

Both the Japanese government and big business have tried to curtail a growing anti-Japan sentiment in the US, known as "revisionism," that contends Japan must be treated uniquely as a trade partner because of its mercantile form of capitalism and virtual one-party democracy that differ from the West.

When Vice President Dan Quayle visited Tokyo in May, Miyazawa praised him for his courage in "bashing the Japan-bashers and revising the revisionists."

Officials in Tokyo seem relieved that the US election campaign has not focused yet on Japan's rising trade surplus and its alleged "unfair" business practices.

Still, they worry that the potential presidential candidacy of Ross Perot, who is perceived here as a hard-liner against Japan, might spark a protectionist mood in Congress.

To help Bush win in the November election, which is a not-so-secret goal of Japanese leaders, Miyazawa will present a plan that appears to meet a Bush request for Japan to boost its sagging domestic economy with a pump-priming boost in the government budget. The LDP gave sketchy details of the plan on Saturday, saying it will spend $47 billion to $55 billion. Japan, the locomotive

The US has requested such spending for two reasons. One is to make Japan the economic locomotive for the world economy by having it reach a targeted 3. …

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