Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone sounded a conciliatory note Saturday over the decision by the United States to impose punitive tariffs in the trade dispute over semiconductors.
"Japan wants to resolve the issue through consultations by explaining its stance thoroughly and correcting the points that need to be corrected," he was quoted by Kyodo News Service as saying.
Nakasone's comments served to soften the earlier reaction by a Japanese trade official who warned that Japan might take retaliatory steps of its own--possibly including terminating last year's trade agreement between the two countries--if the United States implemented the sanctions.
Would Impose 100% Tariffs
President Reagan announced Friday that the United States would impose 100% tariffs on Japanese imports of certain electronic goods in retaliation for repeated violations of the trade agreement on computer chips. The tariffs, which would have the effect of doubling the import costs of the selected goods, would apply to products made by five or six of the large Japanese conglomerates that have been identified as the main violators of the agreement.
U.S. trade officials said Japanese officials have been warned that the sanctions most likely will be in place by the time Nakasone arrives in Washington in late April for a meeting with Reagan, and that Nakasone wants to maintain as friendly a posture as possible until then.
Trade War Not Expected
Nakasone's remarks Saturday appeared to reflect comments late Friday by U.S. government officials, including U.S. Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, who said they did not expect the sanctions to touch off an all-out trade war between the two countries.
The prime minister expressed regrets over the sanctions and said that Tokyo was willing to send a high-level official to Washington in the next two weeks to help settle the dispute.
Hajime Tamura, Japan's minister of international trade and industry, earlier had said that if the United States refuses to revoke the sanctions, Japan would consider abolishing part or all of the semiconductor agreement that was reached last July 1 and signed by the two countries on Sept. 2.
Officials of Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry later sought to play down the significance of Tamura's remark and said his main message was that the two sides needed to talk urgently about the issue.
No Official Reply
In Washington on Saturday, trade officials said that the U.S. government had not yet received official reaction from Japan. In addition to a request for emergency consultations, as provided in the trade accord, they expect Japanese officials to join American electronics and consumer groups in commenting on the sanctions in the two-week period before the tariffs take effect.