Japan has no intention of setting a numerical target so its surging steel exports to the United States can be monitored, International Trade and Industry Minister Kaoru Yosano emphasized Thursday.

In his meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and other trade officials in Washington earlier this week, Yosano said that Japanese steel exports to the U.S. are expected to drop to 1997 levels this year based on steel industry projections.

That, however, does not mean that “the Japanese government commits itself” to a numerical target, Yosano told a news conference. “It is just impossible (to promise such a target).”

Yosano added that such a practice would run counter to the principles of the World Trade Organization and clash with the Antimonopoly Law.

He said there is little his government can do to change the situation, noting that Japanese steel exports increased simply as a result of growing demand in the U.S. and American steelmakers’ inability to meet it.

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