• Kyodo

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A group of U.S. lawmakers has urged President Bill Clinton to put pressure on Japan to open its flat-glass market when he meets with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in Tokyo later this month, congressional officials said Monday.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bill Roth and three ranking committee members — Pat Moynihan, Charles Grassley and Max Baucus — made the appeal in a letter to Clinton dated June 15. A copy of the letter was made available to reporters Monday.

“When you meet with the Japanese prime minister, we strongly urge you to raise both the issues of American access to Japan’s market for flat glass and Japan’s general attitude toward our bilateral trading relationship,” it said.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a report released in May that the U.S. goal of opening the flat-glass market remains unfulfilled under a bilateral accord that expired at the end of 1999.

Japan let the accord expire by rejecting Washington’s demand for renewing it.

Since the expiration of the accord, “The Japanese government has simply declared its flat glass market open and has eschewed any responsibility for eliminating the collusive practices that have barred U.S. companies from gaining access to the Japanese market,” the lawmakers said.

Japan and the United States had canceled glass trade talks set for June 14 because both parties were unable to narrow difference over the Japanese government’s role in ensuring such access by the time of the meeting.

“Frankly, anticompetitive practices in the Japanese flat glass industry is part of a broader pattern that has been on display in other sectors, including construction, autos, paper and paper products, film and insurance,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

Clinton plans to meet with Mori on the sidelines of the July 21-23 Group of Eight summit in Okinawa.