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U.S.-JAPAN TRADE TALKS UNDER WAY

Japanese and U.S. trade officials met today for talks on barriers to trade and investment that were expected to center on Tokyo's public works spending, officials said.

Negotiators tackled Japan's land use policies, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. U.S. officials say the policies have contributed to higher real estate prices that prevent foreign firms from setting up business here.

Before the talks began, Japanese officials indicated they would push the United States to cut its federal budget deficit. U.S. officials, meanwhile, said they hoped Japan would agree to increase public works spending.

Both nations agree the government should do more to improve the quality of life in Japan, and in turn encourage more imports, but they differ widely over exactly how much more spending Tokyo should promise in the talks.

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