Tensions in U.S.-Japanese Relations

April 9, 1982

Report Outline
Unsolved Trade Problems
Japan's Economic Prospects
The Debate Over Defense
New Sources of Tension
Special Focus

Unsolved Trade Problems

Protectionist Sentiments in Congress

It's april in the nation's capital and the city's famed cherry trees are in full bloom. The original trees were a gift of friendship from Japan in 1912. But this year the beauty of the cherry blossoms has been overshadowed by the acrimonious debate over Japan's burgeoning trade imbalance with the United States. Japan exported $37.6 billion worth of merchandise—mostly manufactured goods—to the United States last year. U.S. exports to Japan in 1981—mostly agricultural products and other raw materials—totaled $21.8 billion (see box, p. 260).

This $15.8 billion trade deficit (see box, p. 255) comes at a time when the United States is in an economic recession that has hit its automobile industry particularly hard. Japanese automakers, on the other hand, are enjoying unparalleled success—much of it in the United States. Over 21 percent of the cars sold in the United States last year were made in Japan. Little wonder that Japan's trading policies have placed severe strains on U.S.-Japan ties. “Japanese-American relations are more troubled today than at any time since World War II,” said international attorney Isaac Shapiro, expressing a sentiment shared by many.

The trade issue that has received most attention in the United States is the difficulty U.S. manufacturers have had penetrating the Japanese market. Business and government officials and members of Congress have complained loudly about the barriers foreign businesses face in Japan. These include Japan's vigorous inspection of foreign-made goods and agricultural products and a distribution system that is bewildering to many foreigners.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jul. 26, 2002  Japan in Crisis
May 31, 1991  The U.S. And Japan
Apr. 09, 1982  Tensions in U.S.-Japanese Relations
Jul. 01, 1977  Japanese Elections
Mar. 04, 1970  Emergent Japan
Jun. 25, 1969  Okinawa Question
Jan. 05, 1966  Rising Japanese Nationalism
Jun. 02, 1960  Japan: Disturbed Ally
Nov. 18, 1959  Japanese Competition in International Trade
May 11, 1955  Relations With Japan
Nov. 03, 1954  Japan's Economy
Jan. 09, 1952  Trade with Japan
Feb. 28, 1951  Japan and Pacific Security
Sep. 19, 1947  Peace with Japan
Aug. 14, 1945  Emperor of Japan
Nov. 03, 1944  Russo-Japanese Relations
Dec. 09, 1939  The United States and Japan's New Order in Asia
Dec. 05, 1938  Japan and the Open Door Policy
Apr. 29, 1935  Japanese Foreign Trade Expansion
May 11, 1934  Japanese Policy in Asia
Oct. 12, 1932  Japanese-American Relations
Mar. 17, 1932  Boycotts and Embargoes
Feb. 10, 1932  Militarism Vs. Liberalism in Japan
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific