Japan's Trade Minister said Saturday some members of the U.S. Congress are "ignorant" and "fascist" for backing a proposed U.S. trade bill, news reports said.
"Certain members of the U.S. Congress are . . . ignorant of foreign diplomacy, politics, legislation, international morals and the study of law," Hajime Tamura was quoted as saying in the Asahi Shimbun and other major newspapers after a briefing with Japanese reporters.The statements from Tamura, one of the top three Cabinet ministers, were the strongest yet from the government, which is growing increasingly concerned about the negative impact on Japan of the proposed U.S. trade bill.
A Ministry of International Trade and Industry deputy director for American affairs said he could not confirm the newspaper reports, but added, "Mr. Tamura talked about his worry about the movement of the Congress in his press conference."
According to the news accounts, Tamura said the U.S. House and Senate negotiators were acting on "emotions" when they approved a compromise trade bill Thursday that would punish Toshiba Corp. for a subsidiary's illegal export of sensitive technology to the Soviet Union, which used it for military purposes.
"Being so trapped by emotion is fascist," Tamura was quoted as saying.
U.S. officials say the technology exports allowed the Soviet Union to develop quieter submarines more difficult to detect by sonar.
Tamura lashed out at members of Congress who criticized a Tokyo court for being overly lenient when it fined the subsidiary, Toshiba Machine Co., $15,000 and gave suspended sentences to two executives last month for the illegal exports.
"Did the American Congress throw away its respect for the judiciary and the system of checks and balances?" Tamura reportedly said.
"Whatever Japan is asked to do by the United States, Japan should always respect the judicial system," he said.
Tamura also criticized a section of the proposed trade bill that would give the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative the power to determine economic losses the U.S. suffers because of unfair trade practices and to negotiate with trading partners to eliminate the losses in seven years.
"To give the decision of retaliation to the trade representative means that they distrust the president," Tamura said, according to a Kyodo News Service report.
The Japanese government views President Reagan as an ally in the debate on the trade bill and has said it will ask him to veto the measure.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said in Washington Friday the president's advisers may recommend a veto unless Congress deletes the Toshiba punishment, limits on the president's decision-making authority and other provisions.