Trade Tiff Hasn’t Embittered U.S. Public

Japan-America Society leader says friction a political, not personal, issue


OSAKA — Trade frictions have not made Americans bitter toward Japan, even after retaliatory trade actions were imposed by the U.S. government, says the president of the Japan Society of Boston.

Dr. Vernon R. Alden said the debate about recent tariffs on Japanese imports is centered in U.S. political circles and not on the streets of America.

“There is not support for this move,” he said. “Across the country, American people do not feel as opposed as our congressmen are.”

Alden, also chairman of the Japan-America Societies of the United States, Inc., is escorting a delegation of about 20 U.S. officers from that organization through Japan to meet with various regional branch officials.

“I believe the American people feel much more friendly and much less concerned” about the semiconductor issue than do U.S. politicians, he said.

Alden spoke Wednesday to a gathering of about 100 American and Japanese members of the Japan-America Society of Osaka.

He said Japan must be getting “confusing signals” from the United States, with the federal government’s actions on one hand, and on the other, growing interest among American companies and local governments to do business with Japan.

U.S. and Japanese companies have completed more than 400 joint-venture agreements, he added.

“Some Americans are bitterly angry at Japan, some are highly critical of the United States,” Alden said at the society meeting, while “many more are deeply worried about an impending trade war.”

“I am sure that we are sending confusing signals to Japan,” he said.

Alden said that some political “Japan bashers” seem to be using Japanese trade relations to arouse interest in the 1988 presidential election.

“In some areas of the United States, the campaign rhetoric is believed and therefore pushing us toward more protectionism,” he said.

“I am deeply concerned that friction between our two countries will become more serious as you in Japan become offended and hurt by the unfair accusations,” he said.

Alden said people in both Japan and the U.S. must keep close ties between the two countries from deteriorating.

“Japanese and Americans must work toward reducing and eventually eliminating whatever barriers and friction remain between us,” he said.