Japan’s auto industry has no intention of increasing exports to take advantage of the yen’s recent fall against the dollar, the head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said April 17.

JAMA Chairman Yoshifumi Tsuji said the number of cars exported to the U.S. rose during the 1996 business year, compared with the previous year, but that it is a temporary trend. The official growth rate, to be officially announced later this month, will be around 5 percent, he said. “We don’t believe the expansion of exported cars due to the yen’s decline will be a source of trade friction between Japan and the United States,” Tsuji said.

Earlier this week, U.S. trade officials hinted that the issue of Japan’s trade surplus may be taken up next week during talks between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Tsuji said the yen’s level is not something Japanese automakers can control and that a comfortable rate for the Japanese auto industry would be somewhere between 110 yen and 120 yen to the dollar.

Meanwhile, Kosaku Inaba, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should make efforts to minimize the effects of the yen’s drop against the dollar. “Japan should carefully watch the sharp increase in Japan’s exports and its trade surplus with grave concern,” he said.

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