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Japan bashing in the 90s


In the early 90s we were told the Japanese had caused our trade deficit, were ‘buying’ America, were getting ahead at our expense, and we shouldn’t take it.But were we in a position to criticize them?

Their high school students studied so much they slept less than 6 hours a day.20% of ours averaged that for TV.Their dropout rate was 1%; ours was 30%.Their students graduated with 3 more years of school­ing than ours; 1/3 of ours graduated functional­ly il­literate.Japanese adults worked 6 weeks more/yr. than us.They saved; we spent.They produced; we consumed. They had a surplus; we had a deficit.They had little crime; we had a lot.They studied our language; we didn’t study theirs.We condemned their trade surplus, but not ours with other countries.They had the best manners.They bought our failing companies, saved them, and provided jobs for us.Their cars had caused a big rise in the quality of ours.Their competi­tion had caused us to make better products and become more effi­cient.They were1st in foreign aid, 1st in technol­ogy, and chief creditor.All this, yet our problems were their fault.

When the English bought Holiday Inn, no one cared; but when the Japanese invested here, we resented it.We hadn’t resented lobbyists from other countries, but we resented those from Japan.Other countries had conducted hostile takeovers; the Japanese had not. The Dutch owned about as much of the American assets as the Japanese; no one com­plained about them.The British owned twice as many and no one complained.

Any foreigner could buy here, and they had to conform to our laws.When the Japanese bought our real estate and companies, they were helping us.They couldn’t walk off with real estate, and no one was forced to sell to them at a loss.As it happened, we owned seven times as many foreign assets as foreig­ners owned of ours.

Some of the Japanese students studied here and returned to produce there.Some of us called in ’91 for Japan to ‘compensate’ by giving us $l00 million.

Our bashing was sour grapes, envy, scapegoating, self-delusion, ar­rogance, pettiness, xenophob­ia, hypocrisy, double stan­dards, and prejudice.

The Japanese resented this more than we realized or cared.They and other Asians remember it, as we moved toward the century of the pacific rim.Not our best chapter.

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