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U.S. trade policy toward Japan ‘deplorable,’ Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says

AFP-JIJI

Washington’s decision to impose trade tariffs on its close allies could have a “grave impact” on diplomatic relations and the world trading system, the government said Monday, describing the situation as “extremely deplorable.”

Washington found itself isolated at a weekend meeting of G7 finance ministers over its stinging steel and aluminium tariffs, prompting Tokyo to issue a barrage of unusually strong language.

“It is extremely deplorable that the situation has not improved even after Japan has explained to the U.S. its concerns at various levels,” said government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

Close allies Tokyo and Washington have been at loggerheads over trade policy after the U.S. refused to exempt Japan from the tariffs, which came into effect Friday.

“The U.S. government’s trade measures, citing its security, makes us concerned that they could disrupt the global market,” Suga told reporters.

“On top of that, we think that it may have a grave impact on the economic cooperation between the allies Japan and the United States and on the whole multilateral trading system under the WTO (World Trade Organization) rules.”

The trade row has cast a shadow over the relationship between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, who have forged otherwise close ties.

Last month, Tokyo informed the WTO it has the right to impose tariffs worth ¥50 billion ($456 million) on American goods — which is equivalent to the impact of the U.S. tariffs newly imposed on Japanese steel and aluminium products.

According to the most recent data, Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. was ¥615.7 billion ($5.6 billion) in April, a gain of 4.7 percent, on higher demand for cars and construction machinery.