Japanese 'grasp' need to act on commitments, Shultz says

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Neatly avoiding any hint of disagreement with the Japanese, US Secretary of State George Shultz ended his two days of talks here on an upbeat note. Mr. Shultz appeared fully relaxed after a series of meetings Monday and Tuesday in which he tried to establish agreement with the Japanese on broad principles. The secretary of state left the details of specific US-Japanese disagreements to further talks by other officials.

The American envoy is apparently convinced that even closer consultation with the Japanese is called for. This would presumably mean frequent cabinet-level meetings between the two sides. US trade negotiator, William Brock, is to arrive here shortly.

Shultz said he sensed a determination on the part of the Japanese to follow through on commitments made by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.

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''There has to be a kind of managerial follow-through to transform policy statements into an operating reality,'' Shultz told reporters. Top Japanese officials ''appear to have a firm grasp of that point. . . ,'' he added.

Mr. Nakasone has said that he wants to strengthen Japan's defenses and ease some of the US-Japanese trade frictions. During his recent visit to Washington, the Japanese leader assured President Reagan that the opening of Japanese markets would continue.

The low-key Shultz is the first US secretary of state in years to be dealing with the Japanese on the basis of considerable past experience here both as a businessman and government official.

His widely traveled predecessor, Alexander M. Haig Jr., never even made it to Japan during his term in office.

Mr. Haig often appeared to have a much greater interest in China than he had in Japan. The ex-Army general was fascinated with what he regarded as China's potential to act as a strategic counterweight to the Soviet Union. But Shultz, an economist who is deeply conscious of Japan's economic power, may be in the process of reversing that attitude.

Shultz has said in the past that he considers China to be an extremely important country. And he obviously wants, through his forthcoming talks with the Chinese, to establish more stable relations with that huge nation. But the assumption is that in many ways his attitude is one of ''Japan first.''

Shultz declared that the Americans and Japanese ''share a tremendous stake in maintaining the general openness of the world trading system.''

At the start of a meeting on Monday with the prime minister, Shultz said of Nakasone's visit to Washington last month: ''I cannot recall when any leader from another country has made such an impact - on the President, on the cabinet, and on members of Congress.''

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