Trade Talk Turns Tough

U.S.-Japanese trade relations are so bad that the usual diplomatic courtesies have given way to caustic exchanges over stalemated talks on autos and auto parts. The latest salvo came in March when Ryutaro Hashimoto, head of Japan's Ministry of International Trade & Industry, sent U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor an in-your-face letter threatening to file a complaint with the new World Trade Organization if Washington doesn't stop pushing Tokyo around. Make my day, Kantor fired back. He said he would welcome a chance to describe the barriers erected to keep American manufacturers out of Japan's market. Now, Kantor is raising the volume, threatening to preempt Tokyo and go to the WTO with his own complaint first.

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