A senior U.S. economic official pressed Japan on Wednesday to demonstrate more of the global financial leadership it shares with the United States to help weather the current crises.

Calling instability in world financial markets “the single most important economic challenge” facing the bilateral partnership, Stuart Eizenstat, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs, stressed the need for the world’s two largest economies to work hand in hand to face the difficulty.

Eizenstat told a Tokyo press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan that the Japanese government should act “swiftly and decisively” to restore its economy not only for the sake of Japan but also for the rest of Asia and other struggling emerging economies.

“Every day of delay brings greater risks for the health of the world economy and greater pain for an Asian middle class which has seen the progress of decades threatened over the past year,” he said.

Recollecting the “costly and painful” action the U.S. took to overcome its savings and loan crisis in the 1980s, Eizenstat urged Japan to quickly straighten up its banks by implementing the pending financial revitalization legislation.

Citing Japan’s high savings rate — which is five times higher than that of the U.S. — Eizenstat called on the Japanese government to carry out sufficient and effective fiscal stimulus measures to boost spending and to help the U.S. absorb exports from other Asian economies.

In asking Japan to bare “mutual responsibilities” with the U.S., Eizenstat underscored its huge and soaring trade deficits with Japan and other Asian countries.

A former undersecretary of commerce for international trade, Eizenstat went on to ask Tokyo to step up market-opening and deregulation efforts as it did for the financial “Big Bang,” pointing out such sectors as insurance, automobiles and auto parts, film and flat glass as areas where more progress is needed.

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