A measured appraisal of the threat, if any, posed by the 1986- 91 investments made by Japanese multinationals in the EC and the US. Using Michael Crichton's Rising Sun as a straw-man starting point, Economist editor-in-chief Emmott (The Sun Also Sets, 1989) argues persuasively that the transformation of Japan's major corporations from exporters into cross-border enterprises is not a cause for undue concern, even among die-hard protectionists. To begin with, he offers convincing evidence that members of the island nation's commercial elite are neither unfailingly astute buyers of foreign assets nor particularly shrewd judges of market opportunities. Among other cases in point, the author probes Bridgestone's costly, unprofitable acquisition of Firestone, plus the iffy show-biz deals done by both Matsushita (MCA) and Sony (Columbia Pictures). Covered as well are the abortive efforts of Japanese banks and securities houses to establish themselves on either Wall Street or in other money centers, including London. On the basis of a survey he made of 500 affiliates of Japanese manufacturers in America, continental Europe, and the UK, moreover, Emmott concludes that the so-called ``invasion'' puts the business interest of host countries at no great socioeconomic risk. He notes, for example, that only 24 of the 150 firms that responded to his poll employ over 1,000 workers, and more than half are operating at a loss. In the meantime, he points out, financial woes on the home front, coupled with unfavorable demographic trends, have curbed the desire as well as the capacity of Japanese multinationals to continue westering. An evenhanded audit of an industrial power whose offshore ventures could prove no more of a challenge than those launched by US prototypes during the 1960's.
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