Japan expects to export 2.2 million cars to the United States in the fiscal year ending in March, 100,000 cars below a self-imposed annual quota, and the government Tuesday said it would continue the restraint.
"If we removed the quota, we are concerned" Japanese companies would push for more U.S. sales and aggravate trade tensions with the United States, said Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, the minister of international trade and industry.Japan's trade surplus with the United States in 1987 was $59.8 billion, the largest chunk of the $171.2 billion U.S. trade deficit.
Mitsuzuka, in a news conference, was asked about complaints from some U.S. lawmakers that Japanese cars built in the United States should also be counted as imports. He replied that by 1991, the local content of U.S.-made Japanese cars would be 75 percent, "and we regard them as American-made cars."
Japanese automakers produced 733,000 cars in the United States from January to November, up 23.2 percent from the same period in 1987, according to the Foreign Ministry.
News reports said the Trade Ministry had been expected to lift the export quota last year, but sentiment was reversed because of concern over giving the wrong impression at a time of rising protectionist sentiment in the United States.
Some Japanese automakers feel the quota is outdated on economic grounds.