Osamu Watanabe, vice minister for international trade and industry, on Oct. 2 applauded Washington’s decision not to list Japan’s auto market on a Super 301 retaliatory watch list.”I regard the decision as the natural conclusion and I appreciate the U.S. government’s just judgment,” Watanabe told a news conference. Although the United States listed a range of issues, including autos and auto parts, flat glass, paper and paper products, as areas of concern, he said, “Those are concerns that we’ve already heard and we take the overall assessment in a very cool manner.”Referring to an upcoming bilateral meeting to review the auto market, slated for Oct. 8 and 9 in San Francisco, Watanabe said Japan has been implementing measures in accordance with a 1995 bilateral accord on autos and auto parts. Although the U.S. auto industry has been criticizing Tokyo for not fulfilling its obligations under the pact, Watanabe said, “Whether regulatory barriers remain is one question and it is another whether business is bad for a certain company. We should not mix them up.”

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