July 30, 1985

The Government of Japan today announced its Action Program for Imports. This program is to be the framework for Japan's market-opening activities over the next 3 years. It fulfills a commitment by Prime Minister Nakasone to provide such a program by the end of July; however, it is difficult to determine from the announcement whether the program will remove the bulk of these barriers in a timely fashion. So, we must reserve judgment until the effect of the program on our exports is realized.

The program focuses on long-term access to the Japanese market. Effective implementation of its initiatives would remove numerous nontariff barriers to trade with Japan. While a long-term effort is welcome, earlier implementation would help resolve the crucial trade problems confronting us today.

The action plan focuses primarily on specific trade barriers, but the removal of such barriers will not result in more imports without an accompanying increase in the willingness of Japanese businessmen and consumers to purchase imported goods. We hope the Prime Minister's countrymen will heed his call to reevaluate and alter their attitudes toward imports. An encouraging note is the recognition of the need for domestic demand expansion, which would result in higher levels of imports. Also announced are steps on the path to capital market liberalization, which we have long encouraged. We are especially aware of the need to improve investment opportunities in Japan.

This program comes at a crucial time in Japan's trading relations with us and with her other trading partners. While United States relations with Japan are amicable and cooperative in nearly all respects, trade issues have been a source of deep and growing concern. U.S. firms believe strongly that they have less access and opportunity to compete in the Japanese market than Japanese firms enjoy here. The administration has made righting this imbalance of market opportunities a number one priority with Japan. We will continue discussions with Japan in an ongoing effort to resolve these troublesome trade frictions. This afternoon the Economic Policy Council will begin a thorough examination and analysis of the plan. We will have more to say upon completion of this review.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters in the Briefing Room at the White House during his daily press briefing, which began at 9:28 a.m.