U.S. Pressed Japan to Open Rice Market at 1991 Summit


Tokyo, Dec. 21 (Jiji Press)--Then U.S. President George H. W. Bush pressed then Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu at their July 1991 summit to open the country's rice market to U.S. imports, according to Japanese diplomatic papers declassified Wednesday.

Kaifu adamantly refused, prompting a close aide to Bush to inform a Japanese official of displeasure that Japan had left Washington "empty-handed," according to the documents.

At that time, the Japanese government controlled the production and distribution of rice under its food control system, closing the market to foreign imports.

Washington had expressed hopes that Japan would completely open its rice market by converting its nontariff import barriers to tariffs.

At the meeting in the United States on July 11, 1991, Bush put pressure on Kaifu, telling him that the United States supported the idea of tariffication and that he had expanded the U.S. import quota for peanuts despite pressure from domestic agriculture lobby groups.

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Jiji Press