With the United States pressing a reluctant Japan to reduce its trade surplus, officials of the two nations sought support Thursday for their opposing positions from the governments of other leading industrial countries, with both sides claiming some success.
Japanese representatives plan to meet in Washington next Friday with Clinton administration officials to begin negotiating a framework for trade relations.President Clinton has insisted that such a framework include a Japanese pledge to buy specific levels of U.S. goods as a measure of progress in whittling Japan's $50 billion trade imbalance.
But the Japanese used the two-day meeting here of top trade and economic officials of the 24-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to argue that the specific targets sought by Clinton are contrary to free-trade principles.
Apparently seeking to capitalize on the feeling among many nations that the Clinton administration is more willing than the Bush administration to be confrontational and to resort to sanctions, Japan proposed unsuccessfully that the meeting's final statement include a passage denouncing managed trade.
The meeting produced a compromise statement that muted references both to managed trade and Japanese trading practices.