THE Clinton administration decided Feb. 14 to authorize sanctions against Japan on cellular phones, increasing pressure on the Japanese after the collapse of trade talks. President Clinton conceded that a trade war could erupt but warned Japan that it stood to lose the most.
United States officials issued Tokyo some of the strongest warnings yet, following up quickly on failed trade talks at a summit between Clinton and Japanese President Morihiro Hosokawa. Japan reacted cautiously Feb. 15 to the threat of sanctions, saying it would appeal to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Trade sanctions on cellular phones could lead to prohibitively high tariffs on Japanese-made instruments and set the stage for sanctions in other areas as well.