Jesse L. Jackson, president of Operation PUSH, met with Japanese Ambassador Yoshio Ohkawara yesterday to discuss a new relationship of "economic reciprocity" between Japan and Black America.
In a letter to the ambassador, Jackson pointed out the strength of the $125 billion American black consumer market in which the Japanese have a considerable share, particularly in automobiles and consumer electronics, as an incentive for Japanese business to consider new trade policies to favor black business and black employes.
Jackson raised the possibility of black consumer boycotts, reminiscent of the early civil rights movement, if agreement cannot be reached between black leadership and representatives of Japan's government and business.
'We're not threating the boycott now. . . but we will resurrect it as a technique if research, education and negotiation fail," he said in an interview.
The PUSH proposals, as outlined in a letter dated July 17, include:
Japanese firms should grant franchises to black business people for automobile dealerships, electronics and other Japanese imported goods.
Japanese firms operating in the United States should begin affirmative action programs similar to those of U.S. companies, including training programs, internships and purchasing plans.
Japanese business should place funds with black banks and insurance companies.
Japanese firms and government should grant chairs and endownments in technical and financial areas at leading black colleges and universities.
Japanese firms should make significant use of all forms of black media to market Japanese-made products in America's black consumer market."
According to Jackson, not one of the 2,800 foreign car dealerships in America is black-owned or nor has Chicago-based Johnson Publications, the largest black publisher in the world, ever received a Japanese ad.
In seeking a establish "set-aside" programs similar to those for federal contractors recently upheld by the Supreme Court, Jackson pointed out that Japan commonly arranges mutually beneficial trade agreements before exporting to Third World nations and felt that black americans as a "Third World people" should be no different.
A spokesman for the Japanese embassy acknowledged that Japan maintains preferential import policies for Third World nations but was uncertain as to whether similar perferences could be extended to black Americans without "reverse-discrimination" legal problems.
Jackson called the moves by union and congressional leaders for greater restrictions on Japanese imports "neanderthal protectionism" and said that black Americans could be valuable allies against this subtle form of racism.