Producing Japanese cars in the United States destroys more U.S. jobs than it creates and is only a little better for the economy than importing the cars, says a report released recently by a union-funded think tank.

U.S. plants operated by foreign companies such as the Honda plant in Ohio or the Toyota plant in Kentucky will cause a net loss of 158,000 jobs in the auto industry and an annual net loss of $6 billion, the study concluded.But the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Japanese-affiliated companies brought more than $10 billion in manufacturing investment to the United States and created more than 185,000 jobs.

The study was issued by the Economic Policy Institute, which is funded in part by labor unions, and written by Candace Howes, an assistant economics professor at the University of Notre Dame and a former analyst for the United Auto Workers.

The Japanese have competitive advantages over their U.S. counterparts, the report said.

"These advantages, which stem mainly from having a young, largely nonunionized labor force, enable the transplants to take market share away from existing domestic auto producers," said the report, "Japanese Auto Transplants and the U.S. Automobile Industry."

"Because transplant vehicles displace domestic vehicles at a very high rate, and because transplants use proportionally more imported parts, transplant production destroys more jobs than it creates."

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Japanese automakers keep most design work and produce the most technically sophisticated parts at home, the report said.

Philip A. Hutchinson, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, said the competition is partly responsible for improvements in quality, productivity and market share at big U.S. automakers.

He said foreign automakers want to be closer to the market they are selling to.

"This report isn't economics but rather an emotional political document based on a collection of out-of-date statistics," said William Duncan, general director of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

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