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GM TO START MARKETING SATURN IN JAPAN

General Motors Corp. plans to market its popular Saturn model in Japan in 1994, the company's Japan subsidiary said.

Yoshiaki Kanno, a spokesman for GM Japan, said the Saturns will have the steering wheel on the righthand side of the car in keeping with the general practice in Japan, where traffic moves on the left side of the road.Until now all of GM's models sold in Japan have had the steering wheel on the left.

Kanno said Japan will be the second overseas market after Taiwan for the Saturn, a subcompact model that GM began producing in 1990 in a bid to compete with Japanese models in price and quality.

A total of 76,000 Saturns were sold in the United States in 1991, and GM plans to double the number this year, Kanno said.

He said GM's goal is to begin selling Saturns in Japan within two years.

Sales of imported automobiles in Japan as a whole have been sluggish in the past two years amid a general economic slowdown in the wake of the burst of the "bubble economy" in the late 1980s.

But GM Japan sold 5,651 passenger cars in the first seven months of this year, up 2.15 percent from the same period of last year, Kanno said. He said a total of 9,261 GM models were sold in Japan all of last year.

Kanno said sales of GM models in Japan began increasing after President Bush visited Japan in January to promote U.S. exports. GM also ran a hard-sell ad campaign earlier this year comparing its models to Japanese competitors.