A decade ago Japan urged the United States to cut its fiscal deficit and increase savings, and now Washington is taking a turn to prod Tokyo into rejuvenating the Japanese economy, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Foley said April 15.

Speaking to members of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), Foley said Japan gave “very wise and correct advice” to the U.S. 10 years ago that helped the U.S. economy recover over the past several years. “Japan has not been rebuked,” Foley said, referring to resentment felt by some Japanese who think U.S. officials are interfering in Japan’s domestic policy.

The U.S. recently has been loud and clear on the point that Japan should cut taxes to spur domestic consumption. Foley said there are currently deep concerns in the U.S. and elsewhere over the health of the Japanese economy. He expressed hope that those concerns will not be misunderstood. “Our wish for the Japanese economy is a very good wish,” he said. “It is a wish for growth, prosperity, greater effectiveness in the global economy, greater benefit to the Japanese customers and business.”

While welcoming Japan’s latest plan to compile a stimulus package worth more than 16 trillion yen, Foley also said the nation needs to take bolder steps toward deregulation in sectors such as telecommunications, housing and financial services. “In the preparations for next month’s Birmingham Summit, more effective Japanese steps toward deregulation will be a major concern of the United States,” he said, referring to a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven Plus Russia. “Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Bill Clinton jointly affirmed the importance of effective deregulation at both the Denver and Vancouver summits last year, and we in the U.S. government continue to place priority on this issue.”

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