By Yuji Ohira
During a press conference on Sept. 18, Japan Foreign Trade Council Chairman Kuniharu Nakamura (chairman of Sumitomo Corp.) said, “We’re gradually beginning to see direct effects” of the U.S.-China trade friction on the global economy. He also said that the impact on the Japanese economy is “visible in the auto parts, construction machinery, and electronic parts sectors” and that “tough conditions may continue for a while.”
Nakamura also commented on the ongoing talks between Washington and Beijing by saying, “I hope they will find some middle ground before the impact spreads further.”
Regarding South Korea’s removal of Japan from its list of preferred trade partners, Nakamura said, “The impact on Japan is likely to be limited.” He went on to say that this projection is based on the fact that “semiconductors and other important items were exempted.”
Nakamura said: “Items for which there are no alternative products were excluded. There might be some confusion (involving the items subject to control) for the first couple of months, but we’ll get used to it. I’m not worried about it.”
He also underscored, “(The Japanese and South Korean) business communities will join hands to continue doing business.”
As for the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Sept. 14, he said, “I’d like to commend the nation for making comprehensive efforts to restore production to pre-attack levels within the month.” But he also pointed out that “the geopolitical risks of the Middle East are evident” and said it is important for Japan to diversify its energy suppliers.
Nakamura welcomed the basic trade agreement reached between Japan and the U.S. and their plan to sign a draft agreement as early as next week, saying, “It’s good news.” On the other hand, he made a request by saying, “I hope the two sides will conclude a deal that doesn’t leave room for the U.S. to impose additional tariffs on Japanese cars.”