CAPITALIST RACISM & Corporate RAPE of American Economy by Asia.
I just read Michael Crichton's "RISING SUN" where the author speculates that the gameboard is on tilt between tradepartners in Asia. Crichton has polled the experts and alleges that there is Racist Capitalism on both sides, The West and the East but the Japs were eating a hole through the Government and getting straight at American corporations and devouring them.
The NY TIMES covered Crichton's blurtings pretty well. WERE THE JAPS OUT TO GET US. (They had big meetings, every CEO in Japan,where they planned how to snatch up all our good designs, factories, corporations, etc etc etc
This entetaining novel/ mystery came alive when made into a film featuring Sean Connery as a super cop who understood Jap manners and their doubletalk. The book costs thirty cents at any thrift store, run and pull a few copies off the shelf. it is very relevant to today's situation with CHINA. Japan had to back off after a series of quakes and tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns but now China is riding the same saddle. Hacking into our corporations. The same WEAK RESPONSE by the US who just responds 'how high.' Makes you wonder who Crichton had as a confidential informer!
Here is text from NY TIMES Robert Reich article, from FEB 92.
As Clinton's secretary of Labor, with jobs beginning to disappear
he was right on top of this subject
Is Japan Out to Get Us?????
By Robert B. Reich
"WE are definitely at war with Japan," says John Connor, the venerable
detective in Michael Crichton's "Rising Sun," as he guides his junior
officer through the intricate web of Japan's evil conspiracy to take
over America. Here is the latest, and least subtle, of a great tide of
recent books demonizing the Japanese. Almost all are classified as
nonfiction; a few, like "Rising Sun," as fiction. But in this genre the
distinction blurs. Mr. Crichton's characters frequently deliver short
lectures on the subject of Japan's insidious design, mixing established
fact with fantasy. The result is a thriller that doubles as a crude
polemic. Just in case the reader misses his point, Mr. Crichton warns in
an afterword of Japan's "adversarial trade, trade like war, trade
intended to wipe out the competition," and encourages readers to verify
the claims his characters make by consulting several recent works of
nonfiction, which he lists.
But the nonfiction books Mr. Crichton cites also tend to mix factual
analyses of Japan's economic strength with hyperbolic visions of Japan's
plot to run the United States. High on the list is "Agents of Influence"
(1990) by Pat Choate, which is partly a thoughtful examination of influence
peddling by all large corporations, but also partly a paranoid fantasy about
Tokyo's alleged payoffs to influential Americans to achieve "effective
political domination over the United States."
Another book is "Trading Places" (1988) by Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr. -- a
useful and detailed chronicle of the frustrations of negotiating trade
with Japan, leading to an implausible and unsupported argument that
because of our failure to respond adequately to the Japanese challenge,
"the power of the United States and the quality of American life is
diminishing rapidly in every respect."
A third is "The Enigma of Japanese Power" (1989) by Karel van Wolferen.
It combines an insightful analysis of Japan's governing structure with a
stereotyped and ahistorical view of Japan as a rudderless, amoral
society "in which good behavior is constantly determined by individuals'
views of how others expect them to behave . . . and in which conformity
to social expectations is not an unfortunate compromise but the only
possible way to live."
MR. CRICHTON might have added many other recent works to his list, books
that similarly blend fiction and nonfiction as they conjure up a Japan
intent on controlling America: William S. Dietrich's "In the Shadow of
the Rising Sun" (1991), claiming that Japan "threatens our way of life
and ultimately our freedoms as much as past dangers from Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union"; Robert Zielinski and Nigel Holloway's "Unequal
Equities" (1991), arguing that Japan's big corporations have rigged
their capital markets in ways that undermine American corporations;
Daniel Burstein's "Yen! Japan's New Financial Empire and Its Threat to
America" (1988), asserting that Japan's growing control over our
financial markets puts the United States at risk of falling prey to a
"hostile Japanese . . . world order"; and William J. Holstein's
"Japanese Power Game" (1990), contending that Japan is motivated by raw
power and parochialism, which threaten the United States. I have located
over 35 recent books in this genre -- many with bellicose titles like
"The Coming War With Japan," "Zaibatsu America: How Japanese Firms are
Colonizing Vital U.S. Industries," "The Silent War," "Trade Wars" and so
There are several possible explanations for this outpouring, but Japan's
recent behavior is not one. Japan still has a long way to go before its
economy is truly open, and it can be (and should be) faulted on many
grounds, but the big story since the mid-1980's is how far Japan has
come in so short a time from its protectionist ways of the 1960's and
1970's. By 1990, Japan was the world's third-largest importer with each
Japanese citizen purchasing, on average, about $1,900 worth of imports
-- not much less than the average American's purchase of $2,050 of
imported products. Japanese imports of manufactured goods have climbed
steeply, from less than a quarter of the total in 1980 to over 60
percent last year -- including many high-tech items like space
satellites and telecommunications equipment. Since 1985, manufactured
exports from the United States to Japan have almost doubled.
Nor do Japanese investments in the United States suggest a conspiracy.
For the most part, those investments have been big losers, which is one
reason why Japan is cutting back on them. The Treasury bills the
Japanese have liked to acquire have declined in value as the dollar has
dropped since 1985; the prices of real estate, another Japanese
favorite, have fallen since 1989. Only a tiny portion of Japan's total
investment has gone to successful American companies; more has been
directed at relatively un successful companies in Rust Belt industries
like tires and steel. Other investments have taken the form of new
factories, where American workers are learning to become more productive
and create higher-quality goods than in many American-owned factories.
It is hard to find much of a plot in any of this. Mitsubishi's purchase
of a substantial interest in Rockefeller Center, Sony's purchase of
Columbia Pictures and Nintendo's recent flirtation with the Seattle
Mariners make the headlines, but in almost every controversial case, it
has been the American owners who have initiated the deal. The British
still own more of the United States than the Japanese do.
Far more significant to Japan's growth than either its trade policies or
its American acquisitions has been its willingness to save and to invest
in its own productivity. Since the mid-1980's, Japanese companies have
invested more money in new factories, capital equipment and products
than have American companies -- even though Japan has half our
population. And Japan has been investing heavily in education and
infrastructure, and will be investing the equivalent of trillions of
dollars more over the next decade. That all this investment enables
Japan to make products of high quality, which American consumers want to
buy, does not constitute a vicious plot.
Before going farther, it is necessary for me to reassure the reader that
I am not now, nor have I ever been, an employee of a Japanese company,
nor do I receive any research funds from the Japanese, consult for the
Japanese or hold an academic chair donated by the Japanese. I feel
compelled to issue this disclaimer because so much of the literature
under review casts suspicions on any academic who dares suggest that a
Japanese plot may not be under way. Pat Choate, in "Agents of
Influence," warns darkly of Japan's infestation of American universities
in order to distort research in its favor. One of the few characters in
Mr. Crichton's "Rising Sun" who is not yet bought off by the Japanese
explains that American professors "deliver the Japanese propaganda line.
They don't really have a choice, because they need access to Japan to
work." Were these professors to sound critical of Japan, they would
"lose speaking engagements and consulting jobs. They know that's
happened to their colleagues who step out of line." These passages are
not only nonsensical, since Japanese funding accounts for a minuscule
fraction of professorial incomes, they are uncomfortably reminiscent of
suspicions during the 1950's of the loyalty of American university
professors and their vulnerability to foreign conspiracy.
But if Japan is not really plotting against us, what accounts for this
wave of fearmongering?
Perhaps American sensitivities are running high in light of the 50th
anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Memories of the attack can be detected in
the metaphors with which the Japanese challenge is described in many of
these books: Japan is "targeting" our key industries (Holstein); it is
"raiding" our technologies (Dietrich); we are "outgunned . . . in the
battle for control of world financial resources" (Burstein); Japan is
mounting a "planned attack" on the United States through a "new kind of
SOMETIMES the Pearl Harbor analogy is explicit. In "Pearl Harbor Ghosts"
(1991) Thurston Clarke journeys to Hawaii to discover the legacies of
the attack, and draws "lessons . . . too depressing, or simply too
terrifying" to be faced by most Americans. "In a Japanese victory more
enduring than Pearl Harbor," Japan has won the "trade war," and is
turning Hawaii itself into an "economic colony" -- with "paler shadows
haunting the mainland." The detective John Connor, in "Rising Sun,"
counsels his protege to "remember Pearl Harbor."
Yet memory of the disaster 50 years ago is only a small part of the
explanation. The fears expressed in these books would not be as intense
as they are were it not for America's own economic doldrums. Although
several of the books were published before the current recession, low
productivity gains and deepening debt have been eating away at the
foundations of the American economy for years. The reasons for these
long-term ills have been well chronicled: a capital market that
resembles a casino and demands immediate profits; an educational system
that leaves almost 80 percent of our young people unable to comprehend a
news magazine and many others unprepared for work; managers who award
themselves princely sums while laying off their workers at the slightest
hint of a downturn; a collapsing infrastructure of unsafe bridges and
potholed roads; and, more generally, a social norm -- which reached its
zenith during the 1980's -- of overconsumption and underinvestment.
None of these failings are readily remedied without considerable
sacrifice. It is far easier to blame others. It has been this way
through history. When the British economy began to sag at the beginning
of this century, British citizens were treated to a series of lurid
exposes, such as Frederick MacKenzie's "American Invaders," about the
American economic onslaught and its baleful consequences. Seventy years
later, Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber issued similar warnings to Europe
in "Le Defi Americain" ("The American Challenge"). That these American
invasions helped their victims prosper in subsequent years is not now in
dispute. Yet at the time they served to distract public attention from
domestic problems. Japan plays a similar role for us today.
But I think there is something else going on here as well. Most of these
books seek not only to explain our problems in terms of Japan's
aggressiveness, but also to incite a response from the reader. These
books are calls to arms. Their authors want America to join together
against the perceived threat. Join together : American government,
American business, American labor. Join together : wealthy Americans,
poor Americans, Americans of every creed and ethnicity. In "Trading
Places," Clyde Prestowitz asks rhetorically whether the American motto
will be " 'every man for himself,' or 'all for one and one for all?' "
and answers that " E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) needs to be
reaffirmed." William Dietrich urges us to "develop a national consensus
of our own."
JAMES FALLOWS, a Washington-based journalist and among the most
thoughtful critics of Japan, develops the unity theme most fully in his
book "More Like Us" (1989). After surveying the differences between
Japanese and American society, Mr. Fallows urges us to "revive the idea
that America is one coherent society, with bonds that are stronger than
its internal differences. We understood this instinctively during World
War II, but not often enough since then."
The ostensible purpose of joining together is to meet the Japanese
challenge. But I think that the real logic -- the deep message of these
books, hidden perhaps even from the purveyors of the warnings -- is
precisely the reverse. The purpose of having a Japanese challenge is to
give us a reason to join together. That is, we seem to need Japan as we
once needed the Soviet Union -- as a means of defining ourselves, our
interests, our obligations to one another. We should not be surprised
that this wave of Japan-as-enemy books coincides exactly with the easing
of cold-war tensions.
As the 21st century approaches, we can see, I believe, a profound unease
about the coherence of American society reflected in these books. The
global economy is tightly linking our citizens to the citizens of other
nations -- with ties as strong as, if not stronger than, the economic
connections binding us to one another within our borders. Talented and
well-educated Americans grow wealthier as the emerging world market
rewards them for their problem-solving skills. Unskilled Americans grow
poorer as they are forced to compete with millions of unskilled workers
from around the world who are eager to work for a small fraction of
The same technologies of worldwide communication and transportation that
have nourished the global economy are creating cultural linkages across
borders and threatening the dominance within the United States of a
single American culture. An affluent native of Brazil who lives in Miami
can now read a Sao Paulo daily newspaper beamed by satellite to a
computerized press a few miles away, watch Brazilian television via
satellite, send and receive facsimile messages within seconds, telephone
Brazil at the touch of a finger and fly home frequently to visit family
and friends. Ease of worldwide transportation also means an ever larger
number of illegal immigrants. And unlike the great tide of immigrants at
the end of the last century, most of the people in this new wave are not
The recent movement toward multicultural ism in American schools and
colleges, and the sharp reaction to it, can be understood in the same
terms: at once a sign of the nation's increasing diversity, and also a
warning of the growing power of its centrifuge. At least one
Presidential candidate now trudging through New Hampshire, Pat Buchanan,
is sounding the nativist alarm, not heard so loud in this country since
This is the real specter haunting these Japan books: not the specter of
Japan's dominance, but of an America that no longer coheres. Japan's
extreme homogeneity -- racial, cultural, linguistic -- intensifies, by
contrast, our feared loss of identity. They do join together; they do
seem tightly bound to one another. They know who they are. But who are
Yet an economic war with Japan is not necessary to help us find a
national self-definition. At best, such a war could function as a
pretext for directing America's resources, newly freed up by the end of
the cold war, toward health, nutrition and schooling (we must invest in
the future generation of Americans, lest the Japanese overtake us!), and
toward our infrastructure (Americans must be linked together by
fiber-optic cable, so that we can meet the Japanese challenge!). But an
economic war with Japan could also be as wasteful and destructive as was
the cold war with the Soviet Union -- causing us to restrict Japanese
trade and block Japanese investment, engage in a mounting series of
economic retaliations and thus substantially diminish our standard of
living and theirs. It could also ignite racism and jingoism of the
The central question for America in the post-Soviet world -- a diverse
America, whose economy and culture are rapidly fusing with the economies
and cultures of the rest of the globe -- is whether it is possible to
rediscover our identity, and our mutual responsibility, without creating
a new enemy. The authors under review may think not. I hope they are
wrong. Robert B. Reich's most recent book is "The Work of Nations."
After serving time as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, he began
teaching political economy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Hear / See him talk, read his stuff at http://robertreich.org/
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