JAPAN CLAIMS US THREATS JEOPARDIZE RELATIONS

JAPAN CLAIMS US THREATS JEOPARDIZE RELATIONS

Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita accused the Reagan administration Wednesday of jeopardizing relations by too readily threatening sanctions against Japan whenever a trade dispute arises.

Speaking before a meeting of the House of Councillors' Budget Committee, Mr. Takeshita stressed that such an attitude by the U.S. government runs counter to the spirit of dialogue and cooperation between the two countries and doesn't settle problems.No progress will come out of strife and conflict, he said. Developments will come out of dialogue and harmony.

Mr. Takeshita, replying to questions by a Socialist Party member of the Japanese parliament, said his administration believes Washington and Tokyo should correct the $60 billion trade imbalance between the two by expanding trade instead of curtailing it.

In answering the opposition party's questions, Mr. Takeshita clearly was referring to the Reagan administration's threat to file an official protest with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, concerning Japan's continuing strict controls on imports of beef and citrus fruit.

He also was referring to repeated hints by the Reagan administration that the United States might invoke Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act concerning possible retaliation each time some problem comes up in bilateral trading.

Mr. Takeshita suggested that the problem over Japan's beef and citrus fruit import quotas should be settled through the joint efforts of both nations.

But a Socialist Party member told the same budget session that Japan should be prepared to take some retaliatory steps of its own because of the U.S. threats.

Later in the session, Takashi Sato, agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, told the same committee that Washington has absolutely refused to continue talks with Japan on beef and citrus trade until Tokyo agrees to provide a clear timetable for completely liberalizing imports of these products.

The present four-year quota agreement between the two countries concerning Japan's beef and citrus imports is scheduled to expire at the end of this month.

The Takeshita government wants to negotiate a similar arrangement for another four years, but the Reagan administration is pressing for a compromise plan that would phase out all import restrictions.

If such an agreement is not forthcoming, Takeshita administration officials said, the U.S. government may take the issue to GATT in anticipation of a favorable ruling that would force Japan's hand.

However, the Japanese so far are only offering to raise their beef import quotas for the April-September term to 102,000 tons, up by 9,000 tons from the level pertaining for the same period of 1987.

Japan already has set import quotas for oranges and orange juice, for the same six months, at 91,000 tons and 8,500 tons, respectively. These figures are unchanged from the first half of 1987.

Hidero Maki, director general of the Economic Affairs Bureau of Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, is now in Washington attempting to uncover ways in which the deadlock in negotiations over the issue can be broken.

As of now, the Reagan administration has shown no signs of backing down on its threat to place the problem before the GATT and we have as yet no counterproposal which Washington is likely to accept, a ministry official said.