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Japan Considers Change in Export Control Rules

Associated Press

Japan’s trade ministry said it is studying possible changes in its export control laws following Toshiba Machine Co.'s illegal sale of high-technology equipment to the Soviet Union.

Under consideration are measures “including the expansion of number of staff and the structure and regulations,” said Atsushi Iwai, director of strategic export control at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The move follows a directive issued earlier last week by Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who instructed concerned government agencies to tighten their export control systems, Iwai said.

Meanwhile, a Japanese newspaper reported Friday that Toshiba Corp., the parent company of Toshiba Machine, will send a delegation of top executives to “explain the facts” to the U.S. government. A Toshiba spokesman, however, said there were no definite plans.

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Earlier last week, the Senate voted to ban Toshiba and a Norwegian company, Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk, from selling nearly any products in the United States for two to five years.

Kongsberg and Toshiba Machine sold propeller-milling equipment to the Soviet Union that will allow Soviet submarines to run quietly and escape detection.

The president and chairman of Toshiba Corp. resigned late Wednesday to take responsibility for the illegal sales, though both emphatically denied any direct link between the parent company and the transactions.

“We are considering how to overcome this situation in the United States,” said Toshiba spokesman Yuji Wakayama, referring to the Senate’s action.

On Friday, Toshiba Machine published an “open letter” in the Mainichi Daily News, an English-language newspaper, apologizing for the “serious anxieties” incurred by high-tech sale to the Soviets.

“We deeply regret that, bearing the Toshiba name, we have unwittingly caused severe problems for Toshiba Corp. and its group companies--this despite the fact that we have operated independently,” the statement said.

If the House and President Reagan approve the Senate bill, Wakayama said, the import ban will eliminate at least 10% of Toshiba Corp.'s annual exports.

Toshiba Corp. had an estimated $2.76 billion in sales in the United States last year.

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