Natural Sound The Japanese stock market has reacted with only moderate losses by Tuesday afternoon after the Dow Jones industrial average plunged following off-the-cuff remarks by the Japanese prime minister on a visit to the United States. Wall Street stocks fell sharply after a perceived threat by Japan to dump U-S bonds, alluded to in comments by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. This time it was Japan's turn to take some steam out of the U-S stock market. A half-year after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan alarmed Japanese financial traders with his now-famous "irrational exuberance" code words for a possible interest- rate increase, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto showed he could wallop Wall Street. In a seemingly off-the-cuff response to a question at Columbia University Monday, Hashimoto suggested Japan might sell some of its vast U-S Treasury bond holdings if the United States doesn't help Japan stabilise exchange rates between the dollar and the yen. That would flood the market and increase the supply of dollars. The remarks, made through an interpreter, didn't sound serious, but in a reflection of acute Wall Street nerves over how fast the stock market has risen, Hashimoto fed the worst point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average since the 508-point drop in the crash nearly a decade ago. The mild reaction Tuesday in Japan when markets opened appeared to show Japanese traders were down playing the significance of Hashimoto's remarks. Dollar and stock prices slipped only slightly by midday. The benchmark Nikkei Stock Average of 225 selected issues shed 189-point-42 points, or 0-point-93 per cent, to 20,246-point-72 points at the end of the morning session. Hashimoto's aides later said he was misunderstood. They said he only wants close cooperation with the United States, a theme both countries emphasised at the just-concluded Summit of the Eight. You can license this story through AP Archive: Find out more about AP Archive: