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Japan Officials Criticize Call For Punitive Tariffs

Shoichi Nakagawa, Japan's Ag, Forestry and Fisheries minister, today termed the bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this week that calls for imposing U.S. sanctions on Japanese goods if Tokyo fails to resume beef trade by August, as ''nonsense.'' The bill would require the imposition of $3.14 billion in punitive tariffs on Japanese goods if Tokyo fails to resume imports of U.S. beef by Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, Toshihiro Nikai, Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, yesterday urged U.S. lawmakers ''to think about the issue calmly.'' Since Japan and the U.S. are ''allies,'' he said, the two countries should ''respect each other's positions,'' adding he personally can't accept ''such moonshine'' in a bill.

The comments, reported today by the Kyodo News, is sure to stick in the craw of a U.S. beef industry frustrated by 2½ years of Pacific Rim foot-dragging and an official Japanese stance that flies in the face of internationally accepted standards and science.
-- Joe Roybal