U.S. Carmakers Urge Obama to Punish Japan for Weak Yen

President Barack Obama should tell Japan’s new government that the U.S. will retaliate for policies aimed at weakening the yen, a group representing Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler LLC said.

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, which reclaimed power last month, has let the yen continue its slide against the dollar, making U.S. auto exports relatively expensive, the American Automotive Policy Council said yesterday in a statement.

“We urge the Obama administration to make it clear to Japan that such policies are unacceptable and will be met by reciprocal measures,” Matt Blunt, a former Republican governor of Missouri and president of the Washington-based industry group, said in the statement.

U.S. automakers have said the undervalued yen distorts trade and stunts job growth for American manufacturers. The group has said Japan should be blocked from joining Pacific-region trade talks that include the U.S. until the Asian nation’s auto market is more open to foreign competition.

The yen has declined 14 percent against the dollar since Sept. 13 and fell to a 30-month low against the U.S. currency on Jan. 10. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to weaken the yen to boost his nation’s economic growth..

Japan is “determined to repeat the ‘beggar thy neighbor’ policies of the past,” Blunt said.

The group wrote Obama three days before the start of his second term. His administration bailed out General Motors and Chrysler in 2010 and has made Asia a focus of U.S. trade policy.

“We want the yen to be at an appropriate level,” Hirokazu Furukawa, a spokesman for Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, said by phone today. He declined to comment on the American Automotive Policy Council statement.

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