On Monday Japan imposed its first-ever trade sanctions against the United States on a number of goods, including various steel products, ball bearings and forklifts. According to various news reports, the 15 percent tariff on U.S. imports could add up to more than $50 million. The retaliatory sanctions will reportedly stay in place until the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000, known as the Byrd amendment, is repealed.
"We have concluded that further effective pressure was needed by imposing these counteractive measures to press the U.S. Congress into repealing this amendment," Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said in a statement. "We hope the United States will take this decision by Japan seriously.”
Japan has joined the European Union and Canada in retaliating against the United States because of the Byrd amendment, which distributes money raised by duties on imports the United States has judged to be subsidized or unfairly priced to the companies that seek the protection. In January 2003 the World Trade Organization (WTO) declared that the rule unlawfully protected the American steel industry. When it was not repealed, Japan, the EU and six other countries won the right to impose a total of $150 million in economic sanctions against the United States.