U.S.-Japan negotiations on a new air agreement failed recently because the Japanese "really weren't serious" about negotiating a new pact, Civil Aeronautics Board Chairman Dan McKinnon said last week.

In a speech to the Association of Retail Travel Agents, McKinnon said the talks ended after the Japanese made a proposal "that made no sense for the United States.

"We were not going to trade good valuable rights for something of lesser value just to make a deal with the Japanese," he said.

In return for allowing United Airlines to land in Tokyo--which the United States says already is required by the existing bilateral agreement--the Japanese wanted new landing rights for Japan Air Lines at Chicago and Seattle, and a freeze on U.S. airlines' rights to fly to points beyond Japan.

"It was such an unacceptable proposal . . . ," McKinnon said. "Both parties went to the negotiating table knowing this was the make-or-break session." The last round of negotiations--one of many sessions in the long-simmering, aviation-rights dispute--ended March 19 in Palo Alto, Calif.

McKinnon noted that the CAB had recommended a series of tough sanctions against JAL in December because of Japan's refusal to allow United to fly to Japan. However, the CAB had asked the president not to implement the sanctions--which could result in the withdrawal of some of JAL's existing operating authority to the United States--until after the last round of U.S.-Japan aviation talks ended, in the hope that an agreement would be reached.

Members of the U.S. delegation--repesentatives of the CAB and the Departments of State and Transportation--are meeting to decide its position on "what happens" next, McKinnon said.