The game of diplomatic tit for tat between the US and Japan over the future of the chip pact continued last week as the deadline draws near.
The latest exchanges were between Japanese prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and president Bill Clinton at the G7 summit in Lyon last weekend.
In typical diplomatic language, Hashimoto said that the US must make efforts to resolve the dispute after Clinton suggested setting a deadline for a resolution.
Relations between the countries worsened over the issue recently after a bill passed in the US congress contained a veiled threat over possible cuts in US military spending in Japan. The Japanese vice minister of trade said it was inconceivable that a new pact would be signed.
The current deal expires at the end of this month, but one US senator pushed through an amendment to the 1997 finance bill which said the Senate favoured urgent renegotiation.
Meanwhile, the influential Electronic Industries Association of Japan said foreign firms had made inroads into its home market.
Figures released by the association showed foreign companies had topped 30 per cent in Japan, matching the current US formula.
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