Trade and Industry Minister Kaoru Yosano called on major Japanese auto manufacturers Wednesday to keep tabs on their exports to the United States because trade surplus figures show U.S.-bound exports are on the rise.

Concerns over a further rise in the trade surplus against the U.S. were expressed during a morning meeting between Yosano and representatives of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, officials at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said.

In response, the association, which comprises 13 major automakers, went on to stress its efforts in shifting car production overseas and cooperating in purchasing car parts and importing vehicles in accordance with the 1995 agreement between Tokyo and Washington to correct their trade imbalance.

Association officials also implied that they will refuse any attempts to regulate car exports, and remind the government to maintain a trade policy in concert with the trade rules of the World Trade Organization, MITI officials said.

The automakers also urged the government to facilitate initiatives in ongoing financial and tax reforms in order to help buoy shrinking domestic auto sales, according to ministry officials.

Yoshifumi Tsuji, chairman of the association and Nissan Motor Co., citing 17 straight months of decline of the domestic auto sales on a year-on-year basis, asked Yosano to back the auto industry’s effort to strengthen business operations by more flexibly dealing with income tax reductions and financial reforms.

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