BLINDSIDE by Eamonn Fingleton


Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000
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 An overstated case for the proposition that Japan Inc. has artfully hoodwinked a credulous West about the extent of its economic ambitions. Fingleton, Asia editor of Euromoney magazine, makes many valid points about the differences between Anglo-American free-enterprise capitalism and the mercantilist approach of Japan's government- industrial complex. In an effort to prove that the island nation is engaged in a conspiracy orchestrated by the formidable Ministry of Finance (MOF) to achieve global commercial supremacy, however, the author exaggerates the challenge to a degree that discredits legitimate concerns about Japan's bent for cartels, collusive labor relations, managed trade, encouragement of a high savings rate (at the expense of consumption), and an undervalued yen. Without going into detail, for instance, Fingleton ascribes all five of the postWW II crashes that have convulsed Japan's securities exchanges to cunning plots engineered by the MOF. He only hurts his case with selective attacks on Western publications (notably, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal) and scholars he believes have been gulled into a false sense of security by diabolically clever Japanese bureaucrats. Fingleton ignores a wealth of evidence at odds with his invincibility scenario. Cases in point include the demographic fact that Japan's population is aging at a faster pace than those of other developed countries and its unfortunate record of international investment (in US film studios, real estate, etc.). Overlooked as well is the risk that rivals will eventually take draconian steps against a competitor that desperately needs foreign outlets for a relatively narrow line of export goods but doggedly defends its own turf against significant offshore incursions. Occasionally perceptive but essentially hyperbolic prophecy from the I-alone-can-save-them school of analysis.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1995
ISBN: 0-395-63316-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995