Japan refutes report

JAPAN'S Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) says a recent United States report on Japanese trade barriers is based on faulty data, ambiguous reasoning, and misunderstandings. The report was released March 31 by the US Trade Representative's office. Accusations that Japanese markets are more closed than others are ``not supported by facts,'' MITI says.

The US report accuses Japan of erecting barriers to a range of American products and services. It may be a first step toward levying sanctions on Japan.

MITI's comments followed a sharp rise in the Japanese yen on currency markets. Yesterday, the yen closed at 101.80 - its highest in eight months.

Traders say if Japan does not take action on its own, Washington may want a high yen - thereby hurting Japanese exporters - to reduce Japan's $60 billion annual trade surplus with the US.

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