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JAPAN’S TRADE BARRIERS UNFAIR, REAGAN TELLS GROUP IN TOKYO

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Former President Ronald Reagan warned a group of Japanese business leaders Saturday that Americans are losing patience with Japan's persistent trade surplus and its poor environmental record.

Ending his nine-day visit to Japan on a confrontational note, Reagan said that the lopsided U.S.-Japan trade relationship "is simply not politically sustainable in the United States."In an address to 400 prominent businessmen in the western port of Osaka, Reagan cautioned that "As a friend, I tell you that Americans are not as patient as the Japanese."

He said that Americans would continue to consider Japan an unfair trading partner unless Tokyo lowers its remaining trade barriers, "whether they're regulatory, cultural, structural, whatever."

Reagan and his wife Nancy were scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles Saturday night. They shared their chartered jet with 230 family members of U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan who hitched a free ride with them to the Orient.

The Reagans have been here at the invitation of the Japanese government and the Fujisankei Communications Group, Japan's largest media conglomerate.

Fujisankei has spent some $7.1 million bringing the Reagans to Tokyo. Reagan has been widely criticized for accepting an estimated $2 million of that total from Fujisankei for making a few speeches and appearing at a handful of brief public and private gatherings.

During each of the past several years, the United States has purchased in excess of $50 billion more worth of Japanese products than U.S. firms have sold to Japan. The U.S. deficit is expected to top that level again this year.

"What bothers Americans is that they don't believe U.S. products are being given fair access over here," Reagan said during his 20-minute speech Saturday.

"Fairness is a very strong strain in the American people," Reagan said. "It all started in 1773, when we thought the British weren't being fair, so we threw their tea into the Boston harbor...We don't want to have a Japanese tea party."

To help narrow the trade gap, Reagan called for a new Pacific "Free Trade Zone," between Japan and the United States, similar to the arrangement the Reagan Administration struck with Canada.

The idea has been discussed here before to little affect.