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Rep. Bentley: None Dare Call It Toshiba

July 2, 1987 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Outrage over Toshiba Corp.’s transfer of submarine technology to the Soviet Union has prompted members of Congress, labor leaders and others to urge a boycott of the Japanese electronics firm.

The anger was more concretely expressed Wednesday when Rep. Helen Delich Bentley and other members of Congress used sledgehammers to smash a Toshiba portable radio-cassette recorder on the Capitol grounds.

″Treachery by any other name is still treachery,″ Ms. Bentley, R-Md., said. ″But if it had another name, it would be Toshiba.″

″Now this is what we feel about Toshiba products,″ she said before taking a swing.

The members of Congress, representatives of the International Longshoreman’s Association and the Teamster’s union, and retired Rear Adm. Mark Hill Jr. of the Association of Naval Aviation called for a ″total boycott″ of color televisions, video recorders, personal computers and other products manufactured by Toshiba, which had estimated sales in the United States of $2.76 billion last year.

The American Conservative Union, recalling the prediction by Vladimir I. Lenin, founder of the Soviet state, that capitalists are so greedy they ″will sell us the rope with which to hang them,″ awarded Toshiba a ″Golden Rope Award,″ a large gold-tinted noose, at the news conference.

The call for a boycott came a day after the Senate voted to ban Toshiba and Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk, Norway’s state-owned arms company, from exporting their products to the United States for at least two years. Various retaliatory measures have been proposed in the House.

Kongsberg was not included in the boycott, Ms. Bentley said, because it sells only defense products not available to the public.

In 1983 and 1984, subsidiaries of Toshiba and Kongsberg sold computerized propeller milling machines that enabled the Soviet Union to greatly quiet its submarines, reducing the ability of U.S. forces to track them.

Pentagon and industry officials said Wednesday, however, that the sale to the Soviets should have no impact on the latest generation of sub-stalking Navy helicopters.

The sonar system being installed on the Sikorsky CV Helo anti-submarine helicopters, unlike many U.S. sonar defense systems, does not rely on picking up sounds from an enemy sub.

Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies Corp., delivered the first of 175 CV Helo crafts Tuesday in Stratford, Conn. The Navy plans on spending $3.1 billion on the new helicopters, designed to replace the Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King.

The State Department cautioned that congressional retaliation could boomerang by sparking retaliation against U.S. businesses.

Sanctions, passed Tuesday night by a 92-5 vote in the Senate, ″run the risk of weakening rather than strengthening our collective system of export controls,″ State Department spokesman Charles E. Redman said.

Efforts to seek compensation from Japan and Norway are inappropriate, Redman said, and ″could establish a precedent for similar claims against U.S. companies, whether or not they were actually involved in diversions.″

In Japan, Toshiba Chairman Shoichi Saba and President Sugiichiro Watari resigned Wednesday while stressing that Toshiba Machine Co., which sold the equipment to the Soviets, was a subsidiary and not a division of the parent company.