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