Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said Wednesday he is “seriously concerned” over the U.S. reinstating its retaliatory “Super 301” trade provision and a revised “Buy American” law.

“It stands to reason that international trade is subject to international rules,” Obuchi told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. “If the United States takes action unilaterally, I will be seriously concerned about it. We will closely watch what kind of action the U.S. will take based on Super 301.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka also expressed concern over the U.S. decision. “While each nation is striving for economic recovery amid the current severe economic condition of the world, the United States, the leader of the world, has made the decision to enable unilateral action,” Nonaka told a regular news conference. “We are seriously concerned about it. We hope that the U.S. will carefully and appropriately deal with the issue based on international rules,” he said.

A Ministry of International Trade and Industry official said unilateral sanctions that may be initiated under Super 301 would not be acceptable under World Trade Organization rules. A senior MITI official, meanwhile, said he thinks the revival of Super 301 is a politically motivated attempt to placate U.S. companies.

The official suggested Tokyo may claim Super 301 is in violation of WTO rules if it is applied to Japan.

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