THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM: The FS-X Deal and the Selling of America's Future to Japan by Jeff Shear

THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM: The FS-X Deal and the Selling of America's Future to Japan

Email this review


Freelance journalist Shear arrestingly reconstructs a notably bad bargain the US struck with Japan during a period when, despite an immense trade deficit, Washington was willing to pay almost any price to keep the island nation on its side in the Cold War. Drawing on interviews with key players, a wealth of government documents, and contemporary news reports, Shear offers a tellingly detailed, chronological account of how Japan, after almost a decade of effort dating back to the early 1980s, largely got its way on the co-development of the FS-X, an experimental support fighter plane, for the country's militia-like defense forces. The resultant program, the author argues, could give Japan the advanced technology and know-how it needs to become a world-class competitor in aerospace/avionics markets long dominated by American suppliers like Boeing, General Dynamics, and McDonnell Douglas. While his worst-case scenario -- that Japan will snatch a sizeable chunk of this crucial export business -- remains to be proved, Shear does a fine job of explaining how the steely resolve of career bureaucrats and intra-agency conflicts can influence, even shape or deform, the policy judgments of elected legislators. He also contrasts the patient, end-in-view nationalism of Dai Nihon's single-minded mandarins with the tactical frenzies of US pols who, though not unmindful of economic consequences, tend to favor expedient solutions to epidemic problems. Covered as well are the commercial implications for American industry, whose decisive edge in state-of-the-art software may have been squandered in the cause of a patron/protÉgÉ alliance whose rationale has long since been overtaken by events. A cautionary tale that goes a long way toward clarifying why ""East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Doubleday