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The United States and Japan on Oct. 21 finalized an agreement on the reform of harbor services at Japanese ports, moving a step toward finally resolving the tense trade dispute.Transport Ministry officials refused to disclose the contents of the agreement, saying they first must obtain the consent of domestic trade associations. But one ministry official said the accord deals only with harbor practices and does not include any mention of sanctions imposed on three Japanese shipping lines by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission.Domestic negotiations now must be conducted between the Japan Shipowners’ Association, the Japan Foreign Steamship Association, and the Japan Harbor Transportation Association, according to the official. If the parties agree to the accord, Japanese Ambassador Kunihiko Saito will notify U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater by letter, the official said.As for the sanctions, the U.S. Transportation Department will convey a message from the Japanese government to the FMC that the sanctions violate the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between Japan and the U.S., and that the sanctions must be removed retroactively.

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