Blacks urge talks on `racist' remarks made in Japan

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The National Urban League is ready to negotiate with Japanese business leaders and diplomats rather than advocate boycotts of Japanese products, says league president John E. Jacob. A boycott of any Japanese products would be only a last-ditch tactic, Mr. Jacob says. ``We prefer an understanding to conflict with other racial and ethnic groups.''

Jacob joined with the Congressional Black Caucus and black business and civil rights leaders in requesting that Japanese businesses operating in the United States and Japanese public officials refrain from making racial remarks about black Americans.

Michio Watanabe, chairman of the Policy Research Council of Japan's Liberal-Democratic Party, was reportedly quoted as saying:

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``Among those guys over there are so many blacks and so on, who would think nonchalantly: `We're bankrupt, but from tomorrow on we don't have to pay anything back. We just can't use credit cards.'''

Rep. Mervin Dymally (D) of California, chairman of the Black Caucus, sent a letter of protest to Japan. Jesse Jackson, who earlier spoke before the league, joined Jacob in protest.

A Japanese government spokesman in Tokyo, responding to the Black Caucus letter, apologized for any insults that have been made.

``We strongly oppose racial discrimination,'' spokesman Keizo Obuchi said, according to reports from Tokyo. ``We must pay attention to the fact that words and deeds in Japan are giving an undesirable impression.''

The caucus is calling for an immediate congressional investigation of the Japanese relations with minority Americans, Rep. John Conyers (D) of Michigan said.

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