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Europe-Japan Relations

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the result of the discussions in the European Council on European-Japanese relations.

There was no discussion of Europe-Japan relations at the European Council, but the Foreign Affairs Council on 8 December agreed a list of requests for specific action in the economic sphere to be put by the Commission to the Japanese Government. The Council will assess the Japanese response at its meeting on 22 February next year.

Will my right hon. Friend take care to maintain the position in the Council of Foreign Ministers, which is that, although we sympathise greatly with Japan in being an island with no resources and therefore dependent, as we are, on the import of raw materials and the export of manufacturers, such exports cannot for long be allowed to be confined to so few and destructive items, as opposed to a more general spread of export activity?

That is one of the matters that the Community has been pointing out to Japan for some time. This month we have moved on from saying that early and effective action in general terms is needed to proposing the precise forms that we believe such action should take. We have spelt out the areas in which, in our view, they should take action, and we await their response, which we shall consider at our meeting on 22 February.

Will the right hon. Gentleman beware of making Japan the scapegoat for his Government's economic failings? Does he realise that the threat to many of our industries, including the car industry, comes not from the Japanese but from the EEC? Will he do something about that?

We are concerned about the penetration not only of our markets but the markets of our Community partners by the Japanese in certain specified areas. That is a worry to us, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said. It is also a worry to our Community partners. That is why we have produced a long list of areas where we believe that the Japanese must take urgent and effective action. I hope that they will come forward with proposals, which we shall consider on 22 February.